An uphill task ahead for Gadchiroli MP Ashok Nete

Updated: May 25, 2019, 08:06 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

With the recent naxal attack, and infrastructure still lacking in the sensitive belt, the second-time MP says he is ready for the challenge

Ashok Nete claimed to have got many roads constructed in the tribal region
Ashok Nete claimed to have got many roads constructed in the tribal region

While Modi's 'vikas' mantra has worked for most of its candidates, Gadchiroli's Ashok Nete has a tough task at hand, given the sensitive constituency he represents. Nete, who won a second term from the Gadchiroli Chimur Lok Sabha constituency, with a margin of over 77,000 votes, defeated Congress' Dr Namedeo Usendi. Nete, who was confident of winning the 2019 election with over 5 lakh votes, actually did receive 5.17 lakh votes.

The recent incidents of naxal attacks and their anguish over development might be an area of concern and challenge for Nete, apart from other tribal and non-tribal welfare issues that need attention. "My work in the district in the last five years has transformed into votes for this election and I will continue to do my best for the people of Gadchiroli," Nete asserted, adding, "It was because of my consistent follow-up with party high command that I could get R1,500 crore sanctioned from the Central government for various infrastructure projects like road works connecting villages and state highways, broad gauge railway corridor and a railway line. We will soon commence land acquisition work too."

A sanction of R500 crores has also been secured for construction of irrigation bunds to store water for farming and livestock with water being redirected through far-off tribal villages throughout the year. "Emphasis has been given for construction of industrial units thereby generating employment opportunities," Nete added. On Naxalism, Nete said that he will appeal to them "to walk the path of development." He said, "We are always open for dialogue if the naxals are interested."

Opposition skeptical

Dr Rameshkumar Gajabe of the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi, who secured over 1.10 lakh votes, said, "We must understand that in the process of announcing various tribal welfare schemes, the government has been ignoring the non-tribal communities living here; they usually get left out, thereby creating a rift." For instance, he pointed to the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act introduced in the larger interest of tribal welfare. "While it is a good move, the government has not thought anything about the non-tribal communities residing in the same periphery, thereby causing inequality and unrest."

Similar views were shared by Congress leader Dr Usendi, who got 4.40 lakh votes in the elections. "Only time will tell us if the BJP MP will deliver. He has done nothing in the last five years. The railway project is only on paper with MoEF permissions and land acquisitions still awaited. Bhoomi pujan was done for the irrigation projects but the work has not yet started," he alleged.

Dr Usendi, who said that he will study the reason for his failure, also said that the state Congress leadership was not proactive. "We did not get any resources or directions from senior party leaders. It also means we have to work hard to meet public expectations."

Gadchiroli records 24K NOTA votes

The Gadchrioli Chimur constituency saw a total of over 24,000 NOTA votes which has once again become a matter of concern for the local political leaders. The naxals had called for a boycott of elections in Gadchiroli a few weeks before the election despite which there was a high voter turnout in the region.

"In 2014, we had seen over 28,000 NOTA votes and this time it has reduced a bit. This also means that the educated people of Gadhciroli are not happy with either party, especially given the lack of employment opportunities, medical facilities and basic amenities for which they struggle every today," Dr Gajabe said. Dr Usendi, however, has a very different perspective on NOTA. "In the EVM machines, NOTA is the last button and as many tribals are illiterate, they would have pressed the last button without realising it was NOTA."

Vote margin by which Nete won

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