Biryani packets, a pint of liquor and a few currency notes appear to no longer hold the sway as they demand minimum basic facilities.
It has not been an easy proposition for the candidates of various political parties and across assembly segments to deal with the slum dwellers, during the ongoing election campaign. Packets of biryani, a pint of liquor and a few hundred rupee notes appear to no longer hold the sway.
The slum dwellers are standing up to the leaders and asking them to sign a written commitment to develop their slums or at least provide the basic needs.
“We have drafted our own manifesto and whenever a leader approaches us for votes we have been asking him or her to sign on the dotted line as a commitment, and none has done so far. They try to dissuade the topic by offering money or promising other gifts like cricket kits to the youngsters,” said Dalamma of Indira Colony at Railway New Colony.
This slum has been there since pre-Independence days and so far there is no electricity, no provision for public toilets and drinking water facility. The slum was twice gutted in the past and pattas have not been given despite assurance from leaders during elections in the past.
“About 150 families reside in the colony and we have over 800 votes. A leader of a political party had come on Wednesday asking for votes and when a youth and first time voter asked him to sign the manifesto he tried to lure him by promising a cricket kit or Rs. 1.5 lakh for the entire slum votes,” said Dalamma.
The residents of the slum have been living in penury since last few decades and each house has at least one TB patient, as they live in low roof asbestos sheds, said J.V. Ratnam of Green Climate, a people-based forum that had been promoting the people’s manifesto across the State.
This is not the only slum where people have been demanding their rights passionately in exchange for votes, but other colonies such as MSM Colony at Gannapuram, Ambedkar Colony at Pendurthi and Swatantra Nagar at Madhurwada have rejected the offers being made by the politicians.
At Ambedkar Colony, the candidate of a party had to virtually flee to avoid the wrath of residents. “The last time he had come was during the last elections in 2009. We then told him about our perennial problems of snakes, water, drainage and electricity. He promised to look into it and never returned. Five persons were bitten by snakes and nothing has changed in the last five years. When questioned he had no face to stand in front of us,” said Ratna of Ambedkar Colony.