Wed, 21 Aug, 2019

Marlem hamlet set to boycott polls; EC team rushes in to pacify locals

19th April 2019, 03:08 Hrs

the goan I network


Amid efforts by the Election Commission to ensure that all voters exercise their franchise, the decision of an entire hamlet in a remote part of Canacona taluka to boycott polls sent authorities into a tizzy, prompting government officials, election officials and poll icons to rush to the area in a bid to pacify the agitated locals.   

While Poinguinim Sarpanch Jagdish Gaonkar, who is also local panch of Marlem, a remote hamlet in Poinguinim, insisted that all 217 voters would boycott the polls, the government’s information department has, however, claimed that elections officials, led by Chief Electoral Officer Kunal, had been successful in persuading the locals to exercise their franchise.   

Marlem is a small hamlet in Poinguinim village, inhabited by 300-odd people staying in 55 households. There are 217 voters registered in Marlem.   

The only approach mudy pathway, which passes through the Cotigao wildlife sanctuary, is nearly 3 kms from the tarred road at Tirval-Poingunim.   

Upset that their demand for a tarred road had been left unanswered by successive governments for many decades, locals earlier this week decided to boycott all future elections, beginning with the April 23 Lok Sabha polls.   

Once their decision to boycott the polls went viral on social media, politicians, government authorities and an election team comprising officials and icons have rushed to Marlem since Wednesday in a 

bid to persuade the agitated locals to reconsider their extreme decision and get them to vote in the polls.   

Poinguinim Sarpanch Jagdish Gaonkar, who is also sitting panch of Marlem ward, said the locals were not convinced by the politicians, government officials and the EC team.   

“Neither the government authorities nor the election team could give us concrete assurances to our grievancves and demands. Hence, our residents have decided that not a single elector will enter the polling booth on April 23,” said Gaonkar.   

Gaonkar said the anger among residents is such that many of them refused to even meet or interact with the Canacona deputy collector and other local officers at the site.   

A EC team had partial success as some residents turned up when the team reached the ward to hold interactions with the locals. The villagers present at the site were reportedly disappointed as none of the officials could give them a concrete assurance to their demands. 

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