AGRA: In a major embarrassment to the ruling UP government, residents of over two dozen villages boycotted polling in Aligarh’s Iglas assembly segment on Monday to protest against lack of development work in the area.
Though the residents of the villages were eventually convinced by the administration to exercise their franchise, the turnout still remained poor with only 37.6 % voters casting their votes in the bypoll, in contrast to 64.97 % polling in the last assembly polls in 2017. The villages with low voter turnout included Pilkhunia, Kapoorakhera, Udambara, Sarkoria, Hasangarh, Dhara Gardhi, Kareliya, Hayatpur, Navalpur, Basai, Kaimthal, Maati, Rustampur, Mahua, Kalua, Bailoth, Pachawari and Bulaggari.
In fact, administrative officials admitted that voter turnout in a few of these villages was in single digits - even after all the assurance given by them that their problems will be solved.
Residents of these villages raised slogans against BJP even as the district magistrate C B Singh and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Akash Kulhary reached the villages to talk to the agitated residents.
The residents maintained that there was no use of exercising their franchise, as no development work had been done in their area despite several requests to the administration and the elected representatives. One of residents of Kapoorakhera village said that roads have not been repaired even after 30 years of construction. They alleged that candidates visit the village at the time of elections and after victory no one turns up again.
A resident of Pilkhuniya village, Neha Chaudhary, said that toilets are not available in the village and they have to go out in the fields to answer the calls of nature. “If they don’t care for the development of our village, why should we cast our votes for them,” said Chaudhary. The village has 750 voters and only a few of the residents voted after they were convinced by the administration that work on their demands would commence soon. Besides, issue of stray cattle also impacted the turn out as residents of Mahua village of Iglas boycotted polling to highlight the government’s failures in dealing with the problem.
According to a political observer, there was anger among Jats of the Iglas reserved constituency following the cancellation of the papers of Samajwadi Party supported Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate, Suman Diwakar. Now, they were unsure about whom to support, as they feel that the ruling party has turned farmers into watchmen who have to guard their fields from stray cattle.
Notwithstanding, chief minister Yogi Adityanath went all out to woo Jat voters, who constitute about 1.15 lakh of population, by invoking the names of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh and freedom fighter Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh in his speeches. He also announced that his government would set up a new university in Aligarh as a tribute to the freedom fighter.
The voting percentage in the constituency was almost half of the previous assembly polls and hence the victory margins will be much lower for the winner, said political experts.
This seat had fallen vacant after its sitting BJP MLA Rajveer Singh Diler was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 2019 general elections.