They do not want to see a contest ruining their unity
Nirvanahatti (Belgaum District): The electorates of Nirvanahatti under Hosur Gram Panchayat on Wednesday took a unanimous decision against exercising their right to vote in protest against “outsiders” contesting for a local seat.
Consequently, the staff of polling station number 67 here was left with no option but to pack up with empty ballot boxes. Even the efforts of Assistant Returning Officer Shashidhar B. Badiger and Tahsildar of Hukkeri, who rushed to the polling station, could not convince them to cast their vote.
Of the two seats in the Nirvanahatti ward, Sumavva Khanapure was elected unopposed.
There are 344 voters in Nirvanahatti, all of whom did not cast their vote.
Polling was to be conducted for the second seat reserved for a Scheduled Caste candidate.
As there is no Scheduled Caste family in the entire village, no candidate belonging to the community could be fielded to contest for the second seat.
The three contestants in the fray are outsiders — Kempanna Kamble, Talappa Nirvani Talwar and Ravindra Gurusidda Khatedar, They are from Ingli in the neighbourhood and the same panchayat.
However, this is not the sole reason for the voters to boycott the elections, said K.B. Mokashi, whose word matters most for the villagers here. He told The Hindu that the voters of the village have set a unique precedence by electing members from the seats unopposed ever since the gram panchayat came into existence.
“Even this time, we did our best to have unopposed election for the second seat, no matter even if the candidates were outsiders. But, none of the three contestants could evolve a consensus to avoid a contest. Therefore, we had little option but to boycott polling,” he said.
The villagers are demanding that the Government change the reservation for the second ward as there is no Scheduled Castes family in the village to contest, and the majority of the villagers were opposed to have an outsider to represent them.
The voters would continue to boycott even if there is re-polling, as they would not like to see a contest at the cost of unity in the village, said Raju Sarwadi and Suresh Mudalgi.
Also, the villagers pointed out that no development works such as roads, drainage lines, repair of school building, etc., have been taken up by the gram panchayat. Except for small stretches of a drainage line, work has not been taken up under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
The cement-concrete roads in the village were constructed under the MLA Local Area Development Fund when Shashikant A. Nayay represented Hukkeri in the H.D. Kumaraswamy Government, they added.