Why These Farmers Will Boycott India’s General Elections

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Why These Farmers Will Boycott India’s General Elections

With no road, no electricity, and often no water, these villagers are sitting out the election in protest.

Media coverage of India’s upcoming general elections would suggest that the electoral exercise, to begin from April 11, is primarily a test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a “horse race” between him and Rahul Gandhi, the president of the opposition Congress party. However, common people want parties and contestants to address issues that reflect needs on the ground.

For example, the voters of at least seven villages in northern Uttar Pradesh state’s Bundelkhand region have decided not to vote in the elections, to protest the alleged apathy of the political class over their basic demands.

Bundelkhand is a region dependent on agriculture where hundreds of farmers have been taking their own lives each year since 2013. While statistics on the suicides made headlines in national and international media, with analyses on how drought and debt hit farmers, the villagers say the state and federal governments have done little to improve their lives and livelihood. This is the first of a StoriesAsia election series that seeks to carry the voices of voters rather than focusing on issues that parties and politicians want highlighted for their own political interests.