Odisha forest dwellers threaten to boycott polls
Thousands of forest dwellers and tribals in Odisha have threatened to boycott the assembly and Lok Sabha polls to protest the government's apathy towards them, officials said Monday.
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoists has also put up posters urging people to boycott the polls in four southern districts of Koraput, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Kandhamal where balloting will be held April 10.
At least 10,000 tribal voters in Kandhamal district have announced they will not vote this time because they have been deprived of basic facilities like roads, electricity, education, drinking water and health care, a senior district polling official told IANS.
These voters live in Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency and Phulbani assembly constituency area, he said.
Similarly, member of the Konda Reddy community who live in the state's Maoist-hit Malkangiri district have put up posters at various places announcing the boycott of the polls as the government is yet to give them tribal status.
"They have announced this by putting up posters in their region," District Superintendent of Police Akhileswar Singh told IANS.
Malkangiri will also go to polls April 10.
The Konda Reddy community also boycotted the polls in 2009 general elections, he said.
About 25,000 people of the community live in the state, while another lakh of them stay across the border in Andhra Pradesh where they are recognised as a tribal community.
An official with the state's election office said the concerned districts have been directed to create awareness among the voters so that they come out in large number and exercise their franchise.
Polling for 21 Lok Sabha seats from Odisha and the 147-member state assembly would be simultaneously held April 10 and 17.
(Posted on 07-04-2014)