Amethi, Uttar Pradesh: In Amethi, a VIP constituency courtesy Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who represents it in Parliament, the entire village of Parsauli in Uttar Pradesh did not vote in the assembly elections on Monday. They were protesting against the main road to the village not being repaired for decades.
All 649 voters in Parsauli, 339 men and 310 women boycotted the election in the fifth of seven rounds of polling. Polling booth number 120 saw not a single vote cast, officials said.
The villagers say they are bewildered at having been stricken off the map by their representatives. Parsauli is only three km away from Amethi town on the Amethi-Durgapur highway, but has had no proper road linking it for many years.
Two powerful politicians represent it – while Mr Gandhi is the member of parliament, the legislator is Gayatri Prajapati, an influential minister in the Samajwadi Party of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
KN Sharma, a retired station master of the Indian Railways, who lives in Parsauli, told news agency Press Trust of India that the road that connects the village with the highway was constructed when the Congress’ Sanjay Gandhi was the MP from Amethi.
There has been no attempt to repair it since and there is simply no road left. Sanjay Gandhi, Rahul’s uncle, died 37 years ago in 1980.
The BJP has accused Rahul Gandhi of neglecting Amethi, which has been a Gandhi family stronghold for years. The Gandhis – including party chief Sonia Gandhi who is Rahul’s mother – have accused the BJP-led central government of punishing voters in Amethi and adjoining Rae Bareli by withholding the benefits of central schemes from them.
In the national election in 2014, only two constituencies out of UP’s 80 had voted in Congress MPs – Amethi and Rae Bareli elected Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. The BJP won 72 seats and Akhilesh Yadav’s party had won 5.
For the UP assembly elections the Congress has partnered with the Samajwadi Party but both parties fielded candidates in the Amethi assembly seat after the Congress’ Ameeta Singh insisted on contesting.
The BJP turned it into an even more high profile contest, fielding Garima Singh as its candidate. Garima Singh is the ex-wife of Sanjay Singh, locally known as the Raja or King of Amethi. Ameeta Singh is married to him now.
The Samajwadi Party has fielded its sitting legislator Mr Prajapati, against whom a first information report or FIR was registered last week in a rape case.
85-year-old Maharajdin Yadav of Parsauli said he couldn’t care less. “No one does anything. People come and go, you think they are all blind?” he asked angrily.
It’s not just one village. Many voters complain about the lack of proper irrigation and a lack of good schools and colleges. Amethi’s maternal mortality or mothers who die while giving birth, a key health indicator, is 364 per 1 lakh live births, far more than the state average of 285.
The Congress Ameeta Singh argues with the numbers. “It is wrong to say Amethi is underdeveloped. No constituency can claim 100 per cent development but we are trying,” she said.ndtv