The coastal village of Dandi,which is synonymous with the freedom movement,is now so disillusioned that it stayed away from panchayat polls since people here expect nothing from yet another elected body.
Dandi is among the 33 villages where panchayat polls could not be held on December 29 since there was no candidate for sarpanch.
Though the state Election Commission says it will hold panchayat polls in these 33 villages on January 30,locals say they prefer being under the district administration than electing a gram panchayat.
Dandi,located in Olpad taluka,lives by the sea,but does not have drinking water.
Four years ago,Pradeep Navik,a member of Olpad taluka panchayat,installed a water pipeline linked to Variyav water distribution centre,but it is hardly sufficient for 2,500-odd people living in the village. Supply is erratic and each house has small underground tanks to store drinking water whenever it comes,which is usually once in a few months.
Villagers say they have to travel for miles to fetch drinking water.
Dhirubhai Patel,the last sarpanch of the village,says,This year,nobody filed nomination for the panchayat posts. Leaders from our village elected to the taluka panchayat have also failed to bring water to the village. We have made representations to the MLA and ministers,but nothing has been done so far.
Prathugadh in Dhrangadhra taluka of Surendranagar district also stayed away from the panchayat polls,albeit for different reasons. Villagers wanted a samras panchayat (where sarpanch and other officer-bearers are appointed by consensus to avert polls for incentivised funds). However,the lone Muslim family in this village of 2,000-odd people reportedly wanted to have one of its members in one of the seven wards. Eventually,no one filed nomination for sarpanch.
Outgoing sarpanch Bharat Rabari says the entire village took the unanimous decision not to go for polls since they did not want a member of the lone Muslim family in the ward.
The case of Hodko village in Kutch district takes the cake. The village on the periphery of White Rann is famous for the hotel run by the villagers,called Saad-e-Sarhad. Here,residents opted out of elections to preserve the 40-year-old friendship between the two main contestants,Salam Hasam and Suleman Mohmaad,for the post of sarpanch.
Both filed nomination papers,but withdrew later, says talati-cum-mantri T C Joshi. This village of Muslims and Kolis decided that polls should not break their friendship.
Even more curious is the case of Ghangheli village in Sihor taluka of Bhavnagar district. Here,the local administration simply forgot that the panchayats term was ending this month and so no polls were held. Both the gram panchayat and taluka panchayat blame each other for the goof-up. An election official described it as a slip of pen. The mistake came to the notice of state EC only when the gram panchayat wrote to it that its term was ending on January 15. Polls in this village of 300-odd people will be held on January 30.
In Dhamalpur village of Rajkot district,nomination forms did not reach in time as the village was busy mourning the death of two of its elderly and respected figures. Dhamalpur talati-mantri V R Dhandhal says,The sarpanch seat was reserved for a particular category. However,only one nomination was filed by a candidate,who did not belong to the reserved category. The village was asked to send in fresh entries,but due to two deaths,they could not.
In four villages of Ahmedabad district,the seat of the sarpanch was reserved for scheduled tribe,but there is reportedly no tribal living in these villages of Dhedhal,Rajoda,Sakodara of and Thorithapa.
In-charge state Election Commissioner P S Shah said a new schedule for the election of sarpanch and ward members in these 33 villages will be announced soon and polls will be held on January 30.
Of the 10,000-odd village panchayats in the state whose terms were ending,2,124 panchayats opted for the samras scheme.
(Parimal Dabhi in Ahmedabad,Kamaal Saiyed in Surat,Hiral Dave in Rajkot and Kapil Dave in Gandhinagar)