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Hamlets in Jhabua where Modi & Rahul are still not household names


Ratlam: At a time when much of India has had enough of a long and cacophonous general election campaign, there are still areas untouched by intrusive politics as much as fruits of governance – areas where Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi scarcely ring a bell, let alone transform distant voters into passionate defenders or fierce critics.

Dabcha village (formerly known as Jhabua) in Kattiwada forest area in Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency of Madhya Pradesh is one such neglected place, where poverty-ridden, thin framed tribal men wrapped in sparse clothing acknowledged on repeated queries that they had probably heard the names but proffered little more than that on the Prime Minister and the Congress president.

As ET travelled through non-existent roads to gauge the pulse of the poor Scheduled Tribe families in this hamlet deep inside the jungle, it became evident why the electoral war being fought through social media and traditional ways such as public rallies and nukkad sabhas had failed to reach this part of the country with barren rocky surroundings where life is lived because of nature’s blessings and lost due to its fury as well. The state’s intervention is hardly visible, save poorly built toilets and houses in the village that provide some evidence of the NDA government’s welfare schemes reaching the last mile.

At the entrance of the village, which houses 300-400 people in about 80 tapras (which means houses in the indigenous Bhil language), Hira Bhimla, who is better off among the locals, said, “I have heard their names but don’t know who they are.” Next door neighbour Bhodriya Vista, a father of six children, said he was similarly ignorant.

Bhimla, who belongs to Bhilala tribal sub-community, also said something that the Election Commission of India ought to take note of. “I was away from my house around the time of last elections (2014), and when I returned, I was told my vote was cast in favour of pulda (flower; the locals’ way of referring to the BJP’s electoral symbol – lotus),” he said. In the assembly election held six months ago, Bhimla said, he voted for hathela (hand, the symbol of the Congress). But it was not up to him to decide, he said.

“Our right to cast votes in favour of any party is borne out of tradition and to fulfil wishes of the village sarpanch,” said Arjun Naigda, who didn’t remember his age and neither had sense of timing or days. He, however, said that he would vote for hathela because that’swhat he had seen his grandfather and father doing. Ratlam and seven other Lok Sabha seats of Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh will vote in the last phase of the election on Sunday.

Source: Economic Times