For villagers living in Jharkhand’s Maoist-dominated areas, the pomp and show of seeing a political rally, and the hope of being heard by an MLA hopeful are but dreams.
“My son, who works at a shop in Bundu town of Ranchi district, told me that leaders visit villages asking for votes and hear people’s problems. They move in cars and bikes and play loud music,” said Joba Munda, 63, a resident of Mundatola village, which is about 70km from the state capital.
Bhuduram Munda, resident of another village, Jobitola, said, “I only know about the contestants through the posters. We have several problems here but not a single leader has ever come to listen to our problems.”
HT team visited some of the forest villages near Hesu hills under Tamar constituency, a safe haven for Maoist leader Kundan Pahan and his platoon-29, and discovered that fearing attacks by Maoists, no political leader has ever visited certain forest villages in the area. The difficult terrain also makes these villages inaccessible. The only means for candidates to reach out to people here are through word of mouth and pamphlets. Hopefuls usually use pictorial posters and pamphlets to acquaint themselves to the voters without paying a visiting them. This year, too, contestants have printed posters containing big pictures and few, short sentences. These posters carry candidate’s photograph, picture of the symbol and EVM highlighting the relevant button to press.
“We give pamphlets to villagers and request them to paste them on walls of school or panchayat bhavans in their respective villages,” said workers of various political leaders.
Mukhilala Oraon, 42, a resident of Jaboria, said, “Children of our village who attend school read out and explain us about the poster.”