No votes if you don’t provide us roads, water, say village residents

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Some village communities from across Karnataka have threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha elections if their long-pending demands — often for basic amenities such as water and roads — are not met. While the people of a few villages are toying with the idea of using ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option introduced in the electronic voting machines, others believe that threat of boycott is a better way to draw the attention of politicians.

In Hassan, Kachenahalli Lift Irrigation Project Struggle Committee has given a call for boycott of the elections. The project, meant to provide water to 48 villages in Dandiganahalli hobli, began in 1993 but has remained incomplete. “We, 3,500 members of the committee, have decided not to vote,” said Ajje Gowda, convener of the committee, and added that people of other villages too were keen to join them. They considered NOTA option, but a boycott would send a “stronger message”, he said.

The demand of more than 8,000 voters of 16 villages in Dhabbeghatta hobli in Turuvekere taluk of Tumkur district is also for water. They have decided to boycott the Lok Sabha polls saying that none of the political parties has addressed acute shortage of water that haunts them every summer. Farmer of Gottigere village, G.L. Bore Gowda, demanded that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah visit and assure them of water supply. “Coconut palms are withering and we fail to get water even after sinking borewells up to a depth of 1,000 feet,” said the distraught farmer.

In the dry Lingsugur taluk of Raichur district, residents of Hireyaradihala and Chikkayaradihala are threatening to boycott the elections seeking better roads and water — a demand which has not been met for decades. While people of five other villages in the same taluk had given a similar call earlier but were persuaded by the Assistant Commissioner to exercise franchise, people of these two villages want concrete assurances.

The 300-odd residents of Moodu Kurikatta, near Panambur beach in Dakshina Kannada, have decided to use NOTA with simple demands: a footbridge across a railway line and a city bus to Panambur junction. These residents were original inhabitants of the land where New Mangalore Port Trust has now come up. Shivaram Panambur, a retired government employee, is leading the residents.

In Ullal in the same district, the demand is not for basic amenities. About 10,000 residents here have threatened to boycott the polls as a mark of protest over political parties’ silence over the arrest of “innocent” persons following communal disturbance in Ullal in February first week. Abdul Latif, secretary of Badria Jumma Masjid, who leads the residents’ group, alleged that the lives of the arrested persons, including some degree students and aspirants for jobs abroad, are in jeopardy.

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