Upset with unfulfilled promises, Ansulem villagers to boycott polls

Valpoi: Upset over unfulfilled promises made by political parties and their candidates, residents of Ansulem in Bhirondem village panchayat in Poriem in the North Goa parliamentary constituency have threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha election, scheduled to be held on April 23 in Goa.

The residents of Ansulem have announced that they will boycott the Lok Sabha election and not cast their vote.

Upon learning about the villagers’ threat to boycott the polls, top government officials and officials representing the state electoral office visited the village on Friday, met the angry villagers and tried to pacify and convince them to vote.

District Collector and District Election Officer, North Goa, R Menaka (IAS), Additional Collector Gopal Parsekar, Deputy Collector Vishal Kundaikar, Sattari mamlatdar Anil Rane, joint mamlatdar Sanjivani Satardekar and a PWD road official held a meeting with the villagers.

Assuring to take personal interest and follow up with regard to the villagers’ proposal for road work, the North Goa Collector tried to convince the villagers to cast their vote.

The needs of the villagers, numbering around 200 and comprising of Dhangar samaj members and members from the Muslim community, have not been addressed by successive governments.

Stating that no authorities have paid attention to their problems, the villagers said that they have been running from pillar to post in the hope of getting a two-kilometre approach road to the village asphalted. Their cries for attention have, however, fallen on deaf ears.

A small bridge connecting Ansulem to the other parts of the constituency is on the verge of collapse. Besides, there is no public transport plying on the village route due to the bad condition of the road, which is ridden with potholes. The village also lacks proper streetlights. Though the villagers face several problems related to the basic amenities, their demand for an asphalted road is a priority.

The North Goa Collector spoke to the village elders and assured them that once the election code of conduct is lifted, the road leading to the village would be asphalted. She also explained to the villagers that it would be difficult to take up the road work immediately due to the poll code in force at present. However, the villagers remained firm on their decision and said, “No road, no vote.”

The meeting ended with an assurance from the Collector that a top PWD official will visit the village after the state screening committee takes an appropriate decision on the villagers’ demand.

“On the basis of a media report, we came to know about the Ansulem villagers planning to boycott the polls. Their demand was for a proper road. Efforts have been made to convince them not to boycott the upcoming election. I told the voters that due to the model code of conduct in force, no new work can start now. However, for emergency work, there is a provision for forwarding the proposal to the screening committee, which can recommend the further process of work,” Menaka told the media after the meeting.

She said that she has told the voters that voting is their right and that they should exercise their franchise. She also said that their demand will be taken care of.

“I am sure an appropriate solution to the villagers’ demand will be worked out,” said another official.