Villages play truant in Sonia bastion | india | Hindustan Times
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Villages play truant in Sonia bastion

india Updated: May 01, 2009 00:43 IST

Voters in two villages of the Rae Bareli constituency from where Congress president Sonia Gandhi is seeking a re-election boycotted polls on Thursday even as the VVIP segment recorded a turnout of 46 per cent.

In Gautman Khera and Chaukmani — which are near Aihar, where a rail coach factory is to come up — it was almost a no-show by the voters in protest against what they described as poor roads and drinking water facilities.

In Gautman Khera, a part of the Sareni assembly segment, only eight of the 288 voters cast their votes. Senior district officers, including sub-divisional magistrate, rushed to pursue the villagers to withdraw the boycott call, but failed.

“We had been raising the issue of construction of road, electrification of Dalit pockets and drinking water facility for the past many years, but it has fallen on deaf ears,” said Anil Kumar Singh, the Bahujan Samaj Party polling agent.

Audan Singh, a freedom fighter who was killed in 1942, comes from this village and the boycott call in his village did make news. “This is an insult to the freedom fighter. There is no road, no power or drinking water,” said Patiyar Singh, a local.

The Congress agent, however, said the freedom fighter’s descendents were among those who had cast their votes.

In Chaukmani, only 60 of 319 voters came to vote. Wall writings announcing boycott were also seen near the polling booth.

Lalupur village recorded a turnout of barely 10.8 per cent. Local MLA Akhilesh Singh, who is an Independent, comes from this village. “I have neither cast my vote nor do I propose to,” Singh told HT. Singh was until recently in prison.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had lodged a complaint against the terror tactics used by Singh’s supporters in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Though Singh didn’t back any candidate publicly, reports said his supporters had campaigned for the BSP.

A low turnout could be the outcome of his influence in the Amava area, a villager, who refused to be identified, said.

Many polling booths were almost empty in the afternoon, with villagers choosing to stay indoors to beat the heat. There were some reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines. “But they were soon rectified,” a poll officer said.