Amethi takes pride in being the bastion of India’s first family, but 29 villages in Sultanpur district are unhappy about being clubbed with the VVIP parliamentary seat.
These villages under 21 gram sabhas were made part of Amethi constituency in the 2008 delimitation exercise. Locals complain of neglect by Amethi politicians and administrators alike as the villages with more than 55,000 people fall under another district.
The feeling of being ‘neglected’ has been accentuated so much that four villages — Pipri, Jamalpur, Newada and Gauraparani — have threatened to boycott the May 7 election for this seat. The reason: an unrepaired road eaten up by river Gomati in 2008, disconnecting the villagers from the world beyond.
After about 2.5 km from the Jagdishpur-Sultanpur highway, the mockery of a road to these villages simply vanishes and all one can see is the Gomati flowing more than 100 feet below.
All these villages on the eastern bank of Gomati are under Jagdishpur, one of five assembly segments under the Amethi parliamentary constituency. Regular floods over the years have been steadily eating up village land, even displacing a few villages that have been rehabilitated a little away. But the 2008 flood saw a 200-metre portion of the tar road gulped by the river.
“We have given memorandums to the local MLA, the collector’s office, tehsil office and even to (Congress vice president) Rahul Gandhi when he passed. Nothing worked,” said Hindesh Singh, general secretary of Bhale Sultan Yuva Kshatriya Sangh, a local youth organisation.
The Jagdishpur MLA is from the Congress and Gandhi is seeking a third term from Amethi.
Pipri village pradhan Yogendra Singh described how it is impossible to wade through the mucky road even on foot during rains and how children cannot go to schools for all those days. “We are now so fed up with the apathy, four of our villages have declared to boycott polling this time. Last time, Rahul Gandhi had received 83% vote from here. There are about 5,000 votes,” he said.
The apathy that the villagers talk of is evident through small examples. For instance, in case of a fire incident, fire tenders are sent from faraway Sultanpur — at least one hour drive — rather than Jagdishpur, barely 15 minutes away.
The failure of their elected representatives to deliver has angered the villagers so much that they feel other parties — BJP and AAP, primarily — will be no different.
“They have approached us but we turned them away with folded hands. We told them that we have decided not to vote this time,” said Devendra Pratap Singh, a villager.