If Jai Bahadur Chettri and Sarmaya Chettri are probably the oldest living couple of north Bengal who were unwilling to take the trouble of going to the nearest polling vote to cast their votes on Monday, Binati Oraon 29, a tea garden worker, was among the most excited voters in north Bengal.
Jai Bahadur, 116, and Sarmaya, 103, residents of Betgera Bustee near Salugara in Dabgram-Fulbari assembly constituency, Jalpaiguri, were least interested in voting. They feel nothing positive has happened to them though they have been voting for many years.
On Monday, when Hindustan Times visited the couple who stay with their sons, grandsons and great grandsons said, “We have been voting since time immemorial without any change in our lives and this year we have decided not to vote as a mark of protest.”
Talking to HT, Jai Bahadur who needed his son’s help to understand the questions said, “No matter who we vote for, things would remain the same.” He complained that the economic condition of his family is deteriorating with no one in government service.
The Chettris are basically farmers. His sons, who are also more than 70 years old, and grandsons are somehow sustaining their lives with few bighas of land they have.
Jai Bahadur said, “The government has miserably failed to live up to our expectations.” He never got an old age pension from the state government and his wife’s pension was stopped six months ago without any reason. They pleaded before all political parties, but without any positive outcome.
His wife Sarmaya said, “Betgera Bustee has been left to its own fate with no proper road or drinking water supply. Political parties and media persons remember us only during elections. Rest of the time, we are left at the mercy of god,” she said, while her grandchildren sat beside her.