Even as the first phase of Gujarat elections was held on Saturday, two villages in Saurashtra region boycotted the Assembly polls. Villagers complain that the BJP Government in Gujarat has failed to provide basic amenities like roads, water and electricity. In fact, none of 1,068 voters turned up to vote at Gajdi village of Morbi district. Same way, no votes were polled at Bhaniya village, in Amreli district. In 2015, residents of Bhaniya had also boycotted the district panchayat election. The village is a part of Dhari Assembly constituency. Gajdi is part of Kalavad Assembly constituency, which is a reserved seat in Jamnagar district. The BJP, in 2012, had won the seat by 7,000 votes.
Speaking about villagers boycott of elections, Ravi Shankar, district election officer and district collector of Jamnagar, said: “After learning that residents of the village were boycotting polls, I sent a team of officials who tried to persuade them to take part in the election. Efforts went on until 4 pm but the residents remained adamant. They said they will vote only after assurance from the government that the village will get drinking water from a particular source, and that roads will be built.”
He further said that the administration has reported about it to Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer B B Swain and the Election Commission. Village sarpanch Harsur Boricha was quoted in the media as saying, ““A line was laid to pump drinking water to our village from Dhrol town in Jamnagar district. But they never pumped water to our village. They said we should contact Morbi district authorities after it came into existence in late 2013. We approached officers in Morbi repeatedly, but each time we were told that we will get water from Dhrol. We are not getting water from anywhere…villagers depend on a single well, which goes dry during summer.”
Most people in the village are farmers by profession. The villagers have boycotted elections even as the ruling BJP has claimed that it is seeking votes in the name of development. However, contrasting the claims of saffron party, residents of the village, which is located on the bank of river Demi river, said it has no bridge.
According to one of the locals, villagers have 400 bighas agricultural land on the other side. They find it difficult to cross when Demi-III dam is full. Even while villagers approached politicians nothing till now, he added.