Staff Correspondent

People say GP polls destroyed peace in villages

Agricultural labourers prefer to go campaigning instead of coming to work

‘People pledging lands to mobilise funds

for elections'

Davangere: Are gram panchayat elections breeding animosity and unrest among village residents, apart from overburdening those contesting the polls? A number of residents reply in the affirmative, and avow that the elections have destroyed peace, tranquillity and unity in villages.

Elections to the civic bodies, the lowest rung of the three-tier panchayat structure, have spoiled relationships in the villages, say many women. According to Renukamma of Gurusiddapura Gram Panchayat, elections to the gram panchayat had eroded the cordial atmosphere in the village.

Even her cousins had stopped speaking to her because of election-related issues, she said. “For whose benefit is the election?” she said, recounting no such incidents had taken place during any parliamentary or Assembly elections.

Basamma of Pallagatte said that the residents of the village, who were like one big family earlier, were today not seeing eye to eye, thanks to the elections. Village residents should not have mixed election-related issues with personal relationships, she said and wondered aloud whether there were riches in store for those who won the elections.

Susheelamma of Nilgunda Gram Panchayat in Harpanahalli taluk said that she had seen people availing themselves of large sums as loans to cultivate crops. People even pledged their land to carry out agricultural activities. However, for the first time, she saw people pledging their lands and mobilising funds to contest in elections, she said adding that she had even overheard a candidate saying that he would get the documents of his land released after winning the elections.

She reiterated that the gram panchayat elections had not only spoiled cordial relationships among the people, but also diverted people from agriculture to politics. “Why do we need this election?” she said, adding that all agricultural activities had come to a grinding halt a month ago.

Lokeshappa of Telagi and Hanumanthappa of Uchangidurga, octogenarians, also expressed resentment against the elections and said that youth from the villages, who had little interest in agriculture, were completely engrossed in politics. Even agricultural labourers were reluctant to work and preferred to go campaigning where they would be dinner and liquor in the evenings, they said.

They also berated the erosion of the previous system: “We had a system in the past in which a few village elders met at the 'Aralikatte' to take decisions on vital matters. The elections had destroyed this system and the unity of the village.