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Elections? Kolikata couldn?t care less

Tucked away far from the hustle and bustle of the city, this sleepy hamlet has none of the features that characterise its namesake.
PTI | By Rakeeb Hossain, Kolkata
UPDATED ON APR 30, 2004 09:42 PM IST
Tucked away far from the hustle and bustle of the city, this sleepy hamlet has none of the features that characterise its namesake. With the polls just 10 days away, Kolikata, on the bank of Damodar in Howrah district, is untouched by the hurly-burly of political debates and seems blissfully unaware of the campaign blitz sweeping the state capital.

Not a single procession has yet been organised by any party—no poster or banner on the walls, let alone huge cutouts of candidates contesting for the elections. The only telltale signs are a few wall writings. The villagers’ indifference is all too conspicuous.

The few mud walls sporting graffiti are being shared by two rival parties—the CPI(M) and the Trinamool. The Congress has hardly any presence here—party symbols could hardly be seen. The lone asphalt road, built only recently, will get one to Bowbazar — the only market in the hamlet. One has to walk through a narrow lane to reach an old, dilapidated mandir, called Dharmatola.

The only polling booth at the Kolikata Primary School, however, which the village could boast of, is no longer there. The Election Commission has shifted the booth from the ramshackle single-storied school building to Raspur. Of the 1,602 residents, around 900 would cast their votes this time. The villagers would have to trudge about nearly two km on May 10 to Raspur to elect their representative for the Uluberia constituency. CPI(M)’s Hannan Mollah, Rajib Banerjee of NTC and Kaji Abdul Rejjak of Congress are in the fray.

Mollah has won from here seven times in a row and is contesting for the eighth time, but Kolikata got its lone asphalt road and electricity connection only recently. The village has no hospitals. A primary health centre is still a distant dream for them.

Even as the campaigning gains momentum in other blocks, for most of the villagers here May 10 makes no difference in their lives. Kolikata is apathetic. Villagers have lost hope on the politicians. “We poor villagers don’t really look forward to phoney promises that politicians make before the elections,” says Tarapada Manna a villager, frustration writ large on his face.

Ganendranath Ray, a former schoolteacher, adds, “It took us 50 years to get electricity and asphalt road. Let’s see when our village gets a health centre. Can the leaders tell how many polls we’ll have to go through to get that?”

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