Bad roads, lack of water and electricity supply pushed these Goans to boycott the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in Marlem.
In Goa, residents of a tribal hamlet in Cancona block, Marlem Village boycotted the Lok Sabha elections alleging that the government has been oblivious to the problems of their village. Basic facilities such as proper roads and water supply have not been provided to them by the government.
“Tirwal to Marlem is a 3 km road stretch, which is incomplete. Till date, no action has been taken by the authorities. They only make false promises, but no implementation. For this reason, we haven’t cast our votes”, said Pandurang Gaonkar from Marli village.
The residents of Marlem have been living in this village for more than 20 years. In 1968, Forest Department declared Marlem village as a part of the wildlife sanctuary. Hence the construction of roads or any development has not been looked into. The locals have been facing a lot of problems, including the absence of proper roads. Supply of electricity and safe drinking water are other major issues for the people residing in this village.
After listing all these issues, the residents of Marlem and a people from two other villages decided not to vote in the elections in order to draw the attention of the authorities towards their issues. “Polling officials came to talk to us, but our decision of not to vote, still stands”, added Pandurang. Cancona MLA, Isidore Fernandes also met the locals. After hearing the grievances he assured his support in favour of their agitation. “It is important for any government to provide road, water, and electricity to people. Till now, all government officials have neglected these facilities in Marlem Village”, stated Isidore Fernandes.
Boycotting elections is now becoming a way of protest. Apart from Goa, villages in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha are employing this method in order to get these pressing issues addressed by the government. There has been no evident proof to justify the effectiveness of boycotting of elections. However, the voters are now resolving to this method as a last resort to get their issues addressed.
There is a trust deficit between the voters and political parties. As politicians pay heed to voters only during the time of elections, people are losing faith in politicians and the promises made. The question remains, will these issues ever get resolved?
Video by Community Correspondent Devidas Gaonkar
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a Member of VV Editorial Team.