Memories of bandits still fresh as Bundelkhand readies for polls

In Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region the role of dacoits, who used to call the shots in the elections in the past 15 years, is nowadays not that significant but the memories are still alive.

Polling in Bundelkhand is scheduled to be held on February 20 and 23 and all political parties are making all out efforts to secure a win.

Though Covid-19 has impacted the electioneering and it is dull, at times, parties’ flags can be seen waving in the streets and slogans can also be heard.

Bundelkhand has 19 Assembly seats spread over seven districts. In the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP had won all the seats in the region.

The saffron party has the challenge to retain the seats while the opposition parties are sweating it out to open their account.

For the past 15 years, political leaders have been taking the help of dacoits to win the elections as the latter used to issue diktats in favour of their preferred candidate.

Dacoits such as Dadua, Nirbhay Gujjar, Fakkad, Kusma Nain and Seema Parihar used to work for political leaders from the rugged terrain in the region.

Nirbhay Gujjar used to say openly that he gets messages from veteran leaders of the political parties, and he used to ask the villagers to vote for the party he had struck a deal with.

Nirbhay had even named a political leader after which he was killed in an encounter and his gang was eliminated.

Most of the dacoits, who used to play a key role in deciding who will win the polls, are either languishing in jail or have been shot dead. Therefore, dacoits are not active this time but the memory haunts many.

Bundelkhand’s social worker Amit said that earlier villagers were forced to follow the diktats of the dacoits and vote as per their direction, but now the situation has changed. Compared to earlier times, there is not even a one per cent impact.

An elderly resident of Madhogarh area of Jalaun district, said that in all types of polls — panchayat, Assembly, Lok Sabha, dacoits used to issue diktats telling villagers the party to vote for.

“We used to be scared till the announcement of the poll results for if the poll results went in the opposite direction to the dacoits’ wish, it would have invited trouble for us,” he said.

A resident on condition of anonymity said that when he was held hostage by a dacoit gang, many political leaders came to the outlaws asking for their support in the polls. The police also used to mediate between the dacoits and political leaders in lieu of money, he alleged.

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