The simmering discontentment over the absence of basic amenities in the area along the China border is forcing 400-odd voters in Himachal Pradesh’s remote Kunnu and Charang villages in Kinnaur district to boycott the parliamentary polls.
The reason: politicians visit the area only during elections and thereafter disappear.
“A road to connecting to our village has been constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana but there is lack of its maintenance. It is literally non-existent at most of the 15-km stretch from Moorang to Charang,” village head Puran Singh told IANS on Friday.
He sought to strengthen the BSNL network, open more schools and provide liberal funding for local area development.
“Despite repeated reminders to our representatives, no action has been initiated,a he said on phone, adding “the entire villagers have now decided that: ‘jab tak road repair nahi, tab tak vote nahi’ (We will not vote till the road is repaired).”
Kunnu and Charang polling stations in Pooh block, known for growing peas, are part of the sprawling Mandi parliamentary constituency that covers almost two-thirds of the hill state.
In this seat, sitting MP Ram Swaroop Sharma of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been pitted against Congress greenhorn Ashray Sharma, who learnt politics for years from his father and former Minister Anil Sharma.
While Charang has 50 households, Kunnu has 30.
Another villager Roshan Lal said the villagers were suffering because of unprecedented delay in repair of the road.
“Also the contractor hired by the state government has not cleared the snow from the road timely in the winter, resulting in hampering of movement of heavy vehicles,” he said.
“We are living in India and not in Pakistan. It is the duty of our politicians to take care of development in villages located in interiors of the state,” added an aggrieved Lal, who is gram panchayat ‘up-pradhan’.
Octogenarian Ramesh Lal Negi said the health services are quite bad. “Lack of development remains a major issue in areas bordering China in the state. For want of health specialists one has to travel either to Shimla or to Chandigarh.”
Locals rue that the condition of road is so bad that they even can’t even walk. Large pits pose threat of accidents.
The Buddhist-dominated Kinnaur district in the Himalayan terrain, with elevations ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 feet above sea level, shares a porous border with China.
Polling for the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh – Shimla, Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur – is scheduled for May 19.