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3 villages boycott Gujarat election over water shortage

Source: PTI
December 05, 2022 18:52 IST
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At least 5,200 voters from three villages in Mehsana district of Gujarat on Monday boycotted the second and final phase of voting alleging the state government has failed to resolve their long-pending issues including water shortage.

IMAGE: Voters wait in queues to exercise their franchise in the second phase of the Gujarat assembly elections at a polling station in Himatnagar, December 5, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

An official, however, said the villagers remained adamant on their stand despite the government having already accepted the main demand to fill up all the lakes in their villages with the Narmada water.

This is the third year in a row that villagers from Varetha, Dalisana and Davol in Kheralu taluka refrained from exercising their franchise in different elections, the official said.

 

Voting for the second and final phase was held across 93 constituencies in 14 districts of the north and central regions of Gujarat. Polling for 89 of the 182 seats was held on December 1. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.

Residents of the three villages had not cast votes during the taluka, district, and village panchayat polls held earlier, the official said.

The villagers had given a call to boycott voting in the assembly elections alleging their demands were not resolved despite submitting multiple reminders to authorities.

They had demanded the government fill up all the lakes in the three villages with the Narmada water through a pipeline, and that adequate water is released from the Dharoi dam for agriculture.

Nearly 5,200 voters of Varetha, Dalisana and Davol villages refrained from exercising their franchise on Monday during voting held between 8 am and 5 pm, the official said.

District collector Udit Agrawal said the villagers remained adamant despite the government having already accepted their main demand.

"This is the third year of their poll boycott. I visited these villages a few months ago and tried to convince them (to vote). Though the government had already approved a project to fill up the lakes, no one from the village cast votes today," he said.

Meanwhile, the local administration convinced voters from Bariyaf village in Becharaji taluka, also in Mehsana district, against boycotting the elections.

The villagers had given a call to stay away from polling earlier over some pending issues, including water supply.

"With our consistent efforts, residents of Bariyaf village finally withdrew their boycott call in the afternoon. The village saw nearly 50 per cent voter turnout till evening," said Agrawal, who is also the district election officer. 

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