Dalits scared to contest, SC seat becomes General
Kautilya Singh Posted online: Thu Aug 12 2010, 23:44 hrs
Kanpur : With none of the Dalit residents of the Thakur-dominated
Malasa village mustering enough courage to contest elections for the
gram pradhan's post, the district administration of Ramabai Nagar has
now included the seat under the General category.
In August 2005, Malasa gram pradhan seat was reserved for SCs. In the
same year, bypolls for the seat were held on seven occasions but
neither the assurance from the local police nor that of the district
authorities could motivate the Dalits to contest the polls. All the 15
gram panchayat seats of Malasa also remained vacant as none from the
other communities contested the election in protest against the
reservation of the top post for SCs.
District Magistrate Saroj Kumar Tiwari said: "As per the guidelines
issued by the Department of Panchayati Raj, we carried out a survey of
all 613 gram pradhan seats of the district and thereafter the category
of each seat was finalised. Caste-wise population in the descending
order and rotational system of reservation were the two major criteria
for assigning the categories." He said now the seat is under General
The categories of all 613 gram pradhan seats of Ramabai Nagar were
announced on Tuesday evening. The local residents have been asked to
file their objections, if any, on any gram pradhan seat till August
17. "After checking all the objections, we will declare the final list
on August 19," he added.
Malasa has nearly 3,000 voters, out of which 134 are Dalits. Thakurs
form the majority of the vote bank, followed by the Brahmins.
Owing to the dominance of Thakurs, none of the Dalits turned up to
file their nomination papers in the August 2005 elections. In June
2008 bypolls, two Dalits, Chandrika Prasad and Lallai, decided to
contest the polls. Chandrika filed his nomination but withdrew his
paper, reportedly fearing backlash of the upper caste. Lallai could
not find anyone to propose his candidature. Since then not a single
nomination paper has been filed for the seat.
Reluctant to comment over the issue, Chandrika said: "There was a
strong resentment from my family, therefore I decided not to contest
the elections." He said being illiterate he was unfit for the post.
Lallai's wife Umakanti and daughter Meera refused to support his
decision. Lallai said: "My family members were against the decision,
there was no point contesting the elections."
The Thakurs, however, deny pressurising the Dalits. Rani Devi, a
Thakur who had won the seat in the 2000 elections, claimed: "The
entire village was transformed into a police fortress during the
bypolls and it was not possible for the Thakurs or Brahmins to prevent
any Dalit from filing nomination papers," she added.
Another Thakur resident of the village, Nathi Singh, said: "On several
occasions, we tried to motivate them but they were hesitant to contest
the elections." Singh appreciated the move of the district authorities
to place the seat under General category.
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