Want vote? Write your promises down

April 15th, 2009 - 9:52 am ICT by IANS  

By Asit Srivastava
Pachpehra (Uttar Pradesh), April 15 (IANS) Politicians seeking votes from this village will have to specify what development they will carry out and promise to quit parliament if they fail to implement at least one of the projects within a year.

The nearly 2,000 voters of Pachpehra in Mahoba district, 300 km from Lucknow, intend seeking the guarantees so that the village gets the basic civic amenities the politicians have been assuring for years. The village comes under the Hamirpur-Mahoba parliamentary constituency that goes to the polls April 30.

“In the name of developmental schemes in our village, politicians have been taking our votes. But this time we have initiated this campaign so that politicians cannot exploit us any more,” Prithvi Yadav, a resident and member of an NGO working for farmers in Bundelkhand, told IANS.

The villagers have prepared a form with columns specifying the development projects the village needs. Politicians will have to tick the schemes they will initiate if they win.

The candidates are to give a signed undertaking that they would resign from parliament if they fail to undertake even one of the schemes promised by them within a year of winning the election.

“In the last two days we have circulated the form in the entire village,” Yadav added.

Villagers believe their novel campaign and “power of votes” will force the politicians to undertake development schemes in the village.

“The politicians will have no other option to get our votes,” said Sunil Kumar, owner of a grocery store in the village.

Of the various problems Pachpehra village faces, shortage of water - for drinking and farming - affects the residents most.

“Of the 30 hand pumps in the village, a majority do not function. As a result there remain only six wells to cater to the water needs of the over 3,500 people in the village,” said Shivkumar Goswami, a farmer.

With agriculture being the main occupation in the drought-prone village, farmers face a lot of problems due to water shortage. “In 2007-08, as many as 52 farmers committed suicide in the villages alone,” said Yadav.

Power supply is another issue. The village gets electricity only for 20-24 hours in a month.

“With no streetlights, the entire village is in darkness at night,” pointed out Ganga Prasad, a teacher at the village primary school.

There is no primary health centre either. “For any medical treatment, we have to travel nearly 65 km to reach a hospital,” said Kariana Devi.

The villagers’ initiative has been hailed by local legislator Anil Kumar Ahirwal, who said it “reflects the village’s empowerment”.

But the villagers should know that some development schemes planned by legislators and MPs cannot be launched due to shortage of funds, he added.

(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at asit.s@ians.in)

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