West Bengal tribals boycott votes on developmental issues

April 30th, 2009 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, April 30 (IANS) Thousands of tribals in West Bengal boycotted the Lok Sabha polls and vented ire Thursday demanding development in their respective regions.
The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP), a tribal body based in northern part of the state, called for the poll boycott protesting against the state government not heeding its four-point charter of demands including creation of a new Lok Sabha constituency comprising the foothills of the district and opening of closed tea gardens.

They also demanded the East-West corridor project be executed in parts of the north Bengal region.

“Despite several appeals, the government has not paid any attention to our problems. So what is the point to cast our votes in the election,” ABAVP (Terai and Dooars wing) leader Rajesh Toppo said.

According to reports, there was a poll boycott in six booths in the plains of Darjeeling district - four booths at Matigara-Naxalbari and two at Phansideowa assembly segment. Not a single voter turned up at the Raikhota SSK and Bijlimoni Tea Estate booths in Silguri sub-division.

Meanwhile, a section of tribal community boycotted polls in state’s western districts of West Midnapore and Purulia, following an election boycott call by Maoists in the regions.

Most of the booths were seen deserted as only a handful electorate turned out in these two districts.

In Belpahari, polling personnel who were kept confined by angry locals throughout the last night refused to do election duty, but were later persuaded by the authorities to go to the booths in Chakadoba and Kagmari areas.

The tribal group had boycotted the polls demanding development in the region.

West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats. While polling was held in 14 constituencies Thursday, 17 seats will go to the polls May 7 and voters in other 11 parliamentary constituencies will exercise their franchise May 13.

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