Pyare Lal, 48, lost his leg in an accident in 2015. But that has never stopped the Indira Colony resident from voting religiously every election. On Monday, he alongwith his wife and teenage daughter, a first-time voter, reached the booth at Sector 17 Government Model High School to exercise their franchise. But, while Lal never loses hope, he says he is almost certain that his vote will not change anything in his area.
“Nobody does anything. The colony is full of problems. They (candidates) come during elections, promise it will be uplifted and then there is neither development nor do they show their faces again. We still vote with a hope that maybe something changes this time,” said Lal, who travelled on his wheelchair bike to the polling centre.
Indira Colony, Rajeev Colony and Budhanpur village are situated on the outskirts of sectors in Panchkula. “They are separated by only a road but in reality it’s day there (in the sectors) and night here. But why should we waste a vote,” said Balbir Singh, a retired official of HSIID, after coming out of the booth at Government Primary School in Budanpur.
At the Sector 17 Government Model High School, voters from Rajeev Colony and Indira Colony turned out in big numbers at the five polling booths earlier in the day, but the numbers waned later. There was 33 per cent turnout around noon at the centre in Sector 17. “It feels great to vote for the first time. My only wish is that the winning candidate ensures more availability of jobs. We are studying now and tomorrow there should be jobs,” said Anju Yadav, an undergraduate commerce student. “Ye pehle apna dekhte hai phir hamara. Magar phir b umeed hai (They first think of themselves and then us, but we still have hope),” she added.
At the Budanpur polling centre, only some 30 per cent votes were polled till 1 pm. “We will only vote for the candidate who will do something. Our problems include bad roads, lack of a park and increasing population of stray dogs. There is dung everywhere. Koi kuch nai karta,” said 67-year-old Ram Kumar, who came to vote alongwith his wife Ram Dulari.
While the residents of the colonies and Budanpur village were full of grievances with little hope of redressal, just a kilometre or two away, residents of Sector 15 gathered in large numbers at the Hallmark Public School, several first-time voters among them.
“It feels good to finally be able to contribute. We voted for a better Panchkula and want our representative to open a dispensary in Sector 15. Many people are not able to afford private healthcare facilities. There should be a dispensary in Sector 15,” said Monika, a postgraduate commerce student.
Neel Kand Sharma, who retired from the Military Engineering Service, said that whosoever wins the election should focus on providing jobs to the younger generation. “We can go to the moon but there should be jobs too. Also, the Opposition needs to be strong because otherwise there is monopoly in governance,” said Sharma, who came to the polling centre alongwith his wife and daughter.
Despite a sea of difference in the existence of civic facilities in colonies and sectors, hope is unifying the residents of Panchkula constituency. “Vote kharab karke b koi faida nai hai. Koi kuch nai karta, bas ghar chalna chahiye. Colony will remain same as it was yesterday but may be our vote gets us something this time,” said Lal’s wife Mousiri, while pushing her husband’s wheelchair bike out of the polling centre.