300 Banaskantha villagers to take two-hour long walk to franchise

Even as the Election Commission has set up a polling station that will cater to just one voter in the Gir forest area,over 300 voters at a remote village in Banaskantha have not been that lucky.

Written by Kamran Sulaimani | Ahmedabad | Published:March 29, 2009 12:46 am

Even as the Election Commission has set up a polling station that will cater to just one voter in the Gir forest area,over 300 voters at a remote village in Banaskantha have not been that lucky.

These tribal voters will have to undertake an arduous two-hour journey on foot before they cast their vote in the coming general elections.

The nearest poll booth is Uplabandh,which is around 3 km from Karmadi,the village in question. But that’s not what makes it difficult for the tribals to exercise their franchise.

The problem is in traversing the hilly terrain all the way to the booth. The voters will have to take a kuccha road to the polling booth,which would require them to walk up and down twice. There are around 70 families in Karmadi village with over 300 voters.

Taking a bus to Uplabandh is even more painful,as the route is 65-km long. First,they will have to go to Guda village,which lies at a half-an-hour walking distance from Karmadi.

“The bus starts at Guda to Ambaji and then moves to the Abu road to reach Amirgadh. From Amirgadh,it requires another long walk to reach Uplabandh,” said Hasmukh Patel of MPG Sarvodaya Kendra.

He is a Gandhian who runs an NGO in the 51 tribal villages of Amirgadh tribal pocket and 41 border villages of Vav taluka

in Banaskantha.

Banaskantha District Collector R J Patel said,“The poll booth is just 3 km from Karmadi. Although the terrain is difficult to walk on,they (tribals) will not find it difficult.”

Karmadi is probably the only hamlet in Amirgadh taluka,which has been adopted for special attention by two Chief Ministers of Gujarat.

Narendra Modi adopted this tiny village to give special attention; the former CM,Amarsinh Chaudhry,had adopted the village for accelerated development nearly 20 years ago.

However,the residents have to trudge a hilly terrain to reach any place outside their village,as it is located on the topmost hill in the district. Most tribal villages located in the Aravallis in Banaskantha district have been facing similar problems.

It’s Congress v/s BJP

Traditionally a Congress bastion,the BJP made a dent in Banaskantha during the last Assembly elections in December 2007 by winning eight seats. But the latter suffered a setback in the panchayat polls. The Congress not only captured the Banaskantha district panchayat,but also won in most of the taluka panchayats in the district. Of the total 55 seats contested,the Congress bagged 35,with the remaining 20 going the BJP’s way. In the upcoming general elections,the Congress has fielded Mukesh Gadhvi,party stalwart B K Gadhvi’s MLA son. The party did not field its previous candidate Harisinh Chavda,a sitting MP in the current Lok Sabha. Mukesh will take on BJP’s Haribhai Chaudhry,a former Member of Parliament. —ENS

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