Lok Sabha elections 2019: Agra’s twin villages to elect MP after 30 years
Delimitation of AMC wards 30 years ago, left the villages outside their parent gram panchayat as well as nagar nigam
Around 2,000 residents of the twin villages of Nagla Arhar and Naupura, located about five kilometres from Taj city, will be casting votes to elect their MP for the first time in over three decades on April 18, during the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
Reason? The villages, part of ‘majra’ Nagla Mewati gram panchayat till 1989, found themselves neither a part of their parent gram panchayat nor of the nagar nigam after delimitation of Agra Municipal Corporation wards in that year.
“Somehow, these two villages were not included in the Nagla Mewati gram panchayat. They were neither in urban nor rural limits. Thus began the tragedy for villagers, as they lost their voting rights as well as benefits to various welfare schemes,” said the current BJP corporator from the area, Mohan Singh Lodhi.
He said that while a handful of villagers managed to get voter IDs with addresses of Nagla Mewati gram panchayat, most remained without the cards.
Kiran Devi, a villager who lost her voting rights, said, “During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, I visited the polling booth at a neighbouring village. However, I was turned back, as my ID was found invalid.”
The turn around came in 2017, when after sustained efforts of a few, the villages were included in ward 72 of Agra nagar nigam.
“We tried our best to get the villages included in the municipal limits but the task got completed only now. My brother, Chitar Singh Lodhi, who has served as a corporator from the area, made several efforts. Then, in 2017, I and some other leaders approached the then district magistrate of Agra, Gaurav Dayal, and brought him up to speed with the issue. Thereafter, he formed a committee to make an inquiry. After the committee submitted its report, the DM ordered for the villages to be included in the nagar nigam,” said Lodhi.
“This Lok Sabha election is very special for these villagers. The last time they voted, Janata Dal candidate Ajay Singh won from the seat,” he said.
Avran Singh, resident of Nagla Arhar village, added in affirmation, “I am excited about voting in the Lok Sabha polls. This will be the first time I would be exercising my franchise.”
Shaina Rajput of Nagla Arhar said, “After electing the mayor, this will be the second election in which I will participate using my Aadhaar card. I will vote to choose the prime minister, which is a dream for me,” she shared.
The villagers got to participate in the mayor election of 2017 using their Aadhaar cards. BJP’s Naveen Jain won that election.
No access to welfare schemes
With the delimitation exercise anomaly depriving the residents of Nagla Arhar and Naupura of valid identity cards, they said they were also left bereft of benefits of government schemes, such as, widow pension, toilets, proper roads, drinking water facility and a working sanitation system.
“We have been neglected for 30 years,” said Ram Shankar Kushwah, 40, a farmer of Naupura. “To get benefits of government schemes, some villagers obtained ID cards through illegal ways. A few got voter cards on addresses of village Lakawali, while some got ration cards on addresses of village Kalal Khedia. But it didn’t work for long, as the physical verification failed,” he said.
He alleged that the villagers had approached various political parties over the years to get solutions to their problems but no action was taken.
Shakuntla Devi, 65, resident of Naupura said, “There were no facilities here. Now, after the inclusion of the village in the nagar nigam, people have proper voter IDs, Aadhaar cards and access to various benefits. Road construction has also started. Otherwise, in the past 30 years, the village only had muddy pathways.”
Shaina Rajput of Nagla Arhar said she was hoping that the villages would have even greater access to development in the coming months. “We have missed a lot in these years,” she said.