Having grown up seeing vast difference of living conditions between the planned sectors of Chandigarh and its villages, for the youth of union territory panchayats, the biggest issue appears to be development on par with the sectors.
On the polling day, Hindustan Times spoke to scores of youth who had come forward to vote for the elections to village panchayats of UT. Most of them wanted proper drainage system in their localities, sports facilities, higher compensation if ever their lands are acquired by the authorities and solution of deadlock over Laldora with authorities for once and all.
"The main issue is development. It is very sad to see conditions of union territory villages. Our main agenda is to get a youth leader elected who could present our case with the authorities forcefully," said Gurpreet Singh, 28, a teacher, who came to cast his vote at Khudda Ali Sher village.Villagers lamented that development works in the villages had come to a standstill. "It is disheartening to see condition of villages. The authorities' focus is only on city not its villages," added Amit Sharma, 30, at Khudda Ali Sher village.
The youths said they were looking forward to elect clean leaders. "But he should be aware of the issues and able to represent us. We have nothing to do with political backgrounds of those fighting elections," added Manpreet Singh, who is a government employee and had come to cast vote at a Khudda Lahora village polling station.
The issues appear to be same for the young girl voters also. They also want development-oriented leaders with clean image.
Twenty-year-old Deepika Dhiman, who voted for the first time, said villagers were facing a lot of problems - broken streets, improper sewerage system and lack of health centres. "We are appalled to see the difference of facilities between those residing in sectors as compared to the villagers. Development has been the main issue throughout this election," said Dhiman, who casted her vote at Khudda Lahora village.
Another voter at the same polling station, 25-year-old Vandna shared the same views. "There is no dispensary in the vicinity. Do authorities want us to go to PGI for every small problem. Can't they open a dispensary here?" she asked.
But for 21-year-old Supinder Kaur of Khudda Jassu village, besides the issue of lack of civic amenities, another important issue has dominated these elections. "The villagers have to fight a decisive battle on Laldora issue with the administration," she said.