A day before the sixth phase of polling, nearly 500 residents of Bortar and Madhupur villages have decided to boycott the Lok Sabha poll to register their protest against the lack of development in their areas.
The villages located in Jhalda Block no.1, Pusti Grampanchayat, are deprived of proper drinking water, water for irrigation, sanitation, primary health care, Anganwadi and roads.
The villagers claimed that on February 22, they submitted a public petition for the development of roadways but the concerned administration asked them to come after the completion of ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
Hence, reacting to this negligent attitude of the officials towards basic development, the villagers decided to boycott the polls.
In 2001, epidemic spread across villages of Purulia's Jhalda Block no.1 claimed several lives. However, the villagers said that the situation has not changed even in 2019.
Speaking to ANI, a villager from Bortar, Rajiv Mahato said, "We have nothing here. No Anganwadi, no roads, and no bridge. Even the senior citizens and widows do not get the money under schemes meant for them. We want development. If the government does not provide us with the basic facilities, then we will not cast our votes."
Another villager Janaki Nag said: "There is not a single bathroom in these two villages. What shall we do? We manage drinking water somehow."
Children of these villages are forced to skip school during monsoon due to lack of proper roads. As there is no proper medical care nearby, patients and pregnant women are forced to travel for 30 at least km to get medical help, said the villagers.
Unemployment is another major problem in this region. Due to arid topography of Purulia, water scarcity is always there which severely affects irrigation. Many from the villages have moved to the town in search of their livelihood.
A villager from Madhupur, Robina Mahato said, "This is the first time we are boycotting elections but the government must ponder over why such situations arise at all where villagers are compelled to boycott the greatest festival of democracy."
On May 12, Purulia, Bankura, Bishnupur, Ghatal, Jhargram, Kanthi, Medinipur and Tamluk will go for polling in the sixth phase of ongoing seven-phased Lok Sabha elections.