No boycotting of votes in Padakudru and Beligarkudru3 min read
On March 30, it was reported that the people of Padakuduru and Baligarkuduru, two villages which fall under the Kemmanu Gram Panchayat of the Udupi Assembly constituency, put up a banner next to a bridge leading into these villages. It stated that the people would be boycotting the Assembly elections due to the indifference shown by the politicians in building a cement road that had been asked for the past five years now.
Jyothi Lewis, the ex-Panchayat President claimed that the sign was put up after a mud road, which would easily be washed away in the rain, was being constructed causing people to demand either a proper road or the halting of its construction. However, when TMJ approached this area, not only had the board been stripped down, peoples’ minds had been changed and boulders had been laid as part of the foundation for a road.
Sudha, a resident from Padakuduru said, “Everybody is voting. People were simply saying they wouldn’t vote so they could attract the attention of the government. They have started constructing the road now but they have stopped and we don’t know why. Some people threaten if they don’t finish constructing the road, they won’t vote.”
The ones who are suffering from this lack of infrastructure are those with vehicles. Suresh, a rickshaw driver says that he and his friends face the most trouble crossing the dilapidated road. However, they are neither for boycotting the elections nor are they against it. “If everybody boycotts, we will too. It is the village people who put up the banner and the media people from TV9 and Spandana who came to report about it. After that, on the night of 4th [of April], some people came and took the board down. We didn’t see it the next morning.”
The residents deny knowing whose idea it was. Braan D’Souza, a resident of Kemmanu, believes that boycotting the elections was not a collective decision of the people of the two villages, but the idea of a few radicals. “It was just two to three people from the village who put up the board and no one knows who.”
The problems with the roads have been a longstanding one. Without this road, the only other mode of transportation was the river. However, Lewis disagrees with the idea of boycotting. “We have to vote, we cannot waste the opportunity. Even if our vote has no value we will still vote.”
T. M. Rahamathulle Tonse, a Taluk Panchayat member gives a more positive response regarding the construction of the roads. Brushing aside the chances of a boycott he said, “The locals put up the board as a protest because the development of the road got delayed. But now they have removed it. We have promised that if they vote the road will be built. The construction has only stopped now in preparation of the elections and it will be completed after the elections.”
When asked why it took five years to respond to the pleas of the villagers, he replied, “It takes time to collect funds to build the roads. But the proposal has been passed and the development will be done. We have collected a total of 48 lakhs over a period of 5 years for the construction of these roads.” He also argues that the people complain but are unwilling to give up their land for the construction.
Sub edited by: Shiv Nair