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Landless Arippa families boycott polling in protest

Landless Arippa families boycott polling in protest

Nearly 600 families living in makeshift shelters at Arippa in Kulathupuzha, Kollam, were not an enthused lot on the polling day. Six tiring years into the land struggle and still no sign of redressal, many Dalit and Adivasi voters opted to boycott the polls, something they did in 2014 as well.

“Our constituency is Pathanamthitta, but we have decided to stick to our motto ‘no land, no vote’ this year also,” says Udayan, who, along his wife Manu, chose to stay indoors on Tuesday.

Arippa at present has landless families from a string of districts that include Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, and Idukki, all of them living in rickety shacks.

Firm stand

“Last time we took a firm stand and around 10,000 Adivasi and Dalit voters decided to stay away from polling stations. But this year there was no such collective resolve, yet many of the families decided not to cast their votes. I can say more than half of the families did not go to polling stations today,” says Sreeraman Koyyon, president of the Adivasi Dalit Munnetta Samithi that spearheads the struggle.

Chandrasekharan, another voter from Pathanapuram, says since both the fronts have shown zero interest in addressing their problem, he, along with many others, decided to boycott the polls. “We are disillusioned and angry.”

Their ire against the system is all the more fierce this time as not even a single candidate bothered to show up during the campaign.

“They came some 200 metres from our place, but went back without visiting us. Nearly 300 families who are part of the Kollam constituency are here at Arippa, but all three fronts ignored us. There are many families from the Mavelikara and Thiruvananthapuram constituencies, but none of the candidates tried to contact us even over the phone and it shows their discriminatory attitude,” says Mr. Koyyon.

Silence matters

The Arippa protesters add that their silence till the polling day was intentional as they did not want any candidates there following media reports.

Meanwhile, protesters who belong to the Attingal constituency were keen on casting their votes as they believe Adoor Prakash, who was Revenue Minister in the Oommen Chandy ministry, played a key role in sabotaging their struggle.

“It was our unanimous decision to support the LDF candidate in Attingal. And yes, they form the major share of families from Arippa who exercised their electoral rights this time,” says Mr. Koyyon.

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