Residents of 29 villages in Amethi parliamentary constituency, a bastion of the Gandhi family, feel neglected. Some of them have even decided not to exercise their franchise in this election.
A road was cut because of floods in Gomati in 2008 severing the connectivity between four villages . People claim they have approached everyone in administration but got no relief. They have declared to boycott the Lok Sabha polls in protest. (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT Photo)
These villages were made part of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's constituency in 2008 after a delimitation exercise.
Technically, they are still in Sultanpur district, from where Rahul's estranged cousin and BJP leader Varun Gandhi is contesting the polls.
The 25,000-odd residents of these 29 villages on the east of the Gomati River complain of negligence on the part of politicians and the administration of Amethi district.
Regular floods have worsened the situation, gobbling up land and even displacing villagers.
A flood gobbled up a 200-metre stretch of a key road in 2008, severing the connectivity between four villages — Pipri, Jamalpur, Newada and Gauraparani — and the highway.
Currently, the road simply vanishes at one point and all one can see is the Gomati flowing more than 100 feet below.
With the road not being repaired, residents of these villages under the Jagdishpur assembly constituency — one of the five assembly segments under Amethi parliamentary seat — have given an election boycott call. Amethi goes to polls on May 7.
"We have submitted memorandums to everyone possible: our local MLA (of Congress), the collector's office, the tehsil office and even Rahul Gandhi (during campaigning for the 2009 polls).
"He (Rahul) was here on a campaign trail. But nothing has helped," said Hindesh Singh, general secretary of a local youth organisation.
Rahul is seeking third term in Parliament from Amethi. He faces a challenge from AAP's Kumar Vishwas and BJP's Smriti Irani, an actor-turned-politician, this time.
Yogendra Singh, pradhan of flood-affected Pipri village, said it was impossible to wade through the mucky road even on foot. Children can't go to schools during rains, he added.
"We are now so fed up with the apathy, four of our villages have declared to boycott polling this time."
In case of a blaze, fire tenders are sent from Sultanpur – at least an hour-long drive away — while Jagdishpur is barely 15 minutes away, a villager said.
Apart from the Congress, political parties such as the BJP and the AAP have approached the villagers, but that has not changed the poll boycott decision.
"We tell them, our decision has been made... sorry, we are not voting this time," said Devendra Pratap Singh, another local resident.