Dalits scared to contest, UP government transfers SC seat to General category

Kautilya Singh Posted online: Thu Aug 12 2010, 03:07 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 the 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, of whom 134 are Dalits. Thakurs form a
majority of the votebank, 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 the June
2008 bypolls, two Dalits, Chandrika Prasad and Lallai, decided to
contest. Chandrika filed his nomination but withdrew his paper,
reportedly fearing a backlash from the upper castes. 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 on the issue, Chandrika said: “There was a strong
resentment from my family, and so I decided not to contest the

He also said that 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, said: “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 paper.”

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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