Pushed to the wall and struggling for some basic necessities such as a road and electricity - the first steps to development—to their village, the people of Pokharia collectively decide to boycott elections in a bid to draw the attention of the administration and the government to their plight
T he people of Bihar, working in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Assam and other parts of the country as skilled/unskilled labourers or in some office, came back to Bihar in October and November 2015. They had one common motive—to participate in the much-hyped and talked-about election, which would decide the fate of the third most-populated state of India. The results of the elections would be of great significance, especially for the party at the centre, which invested large sums of money for campaigning.
The contesting parties came up with different agendas to win voters’ confidence. There were promises of supply of electricity, water/sanitation, building of roads, and more. The event remained the most sensational news in the national and the international media. It has been the most-watched election in recent times. The state witnessed a huge influx of Biharis, who came to exercise their democratic right.
On election dates, the booths were crowded, and there were long queues of eager voters. The voters believed that their voices would be heard and their eyes were alight with hope that their lives would improve. The nation’s eyes were on Bihar; which political party would come to power in Bihar? The political parties had their own interests. The enthusiasm of the people of the state and of the observers nationwide helped the state register an overall polling figure of 56.80 per cent—the highest in an assembly election in the state’s history.
Amidst this hype and hullabaloo, there was one polling booth in a remote, unknown part of Southern Bihar, where not a soul went to vote. Except for an occasional sound from the stray dogs roaming around, complete silence prevailed. There were more than 1,000 voters in Pokharia, who had collectively taken a decision to boycott the Assembly elections. Some journalists came to take photos of the deserted poll booth, which then appeared in some regional daily newspapers. The villagers of Pokharia were not influenced by the massive media hype, the large-scale campaigning or the big promises of the contestants.
The road to the village is kuccha and bumpy, making it inaccessible during the monsoon months. There are four hamlets in the village and all the roads are in a similar condition.