nA paltry group of eight persons led by an elderly man clad in a stripe shirt and traditional lungi stood out at a polling booth in Gadapal village in Maoist-hit Dantewada for their commitment to democracy on Thursday.
The 64-year-old elderly man lost his son only a couple of days ago. Also in the queue was a mother who lost his son and a wife who lost her husband.
Their personal grief, however, did not deter them from carrying out their responsibilities as citizens of a democratic country.
The elderly man was Linga Mandavi, the father of slain BJP MLA from Dantewada Bhima Mandavi. He was flanked by Bhima’s 35-year-old wife Ojaswi and elderly mother. They were seen profusely weeping, along with other family members, while waiting for their turn to cast vote in a normal queue.
The BJP MLA was killed along with his three personal security officers and driver in an IED blast triggered by Naxalites on Tuesday evening.
“We are here because Bhima would never want us to mourn his death without casting vote. He died for the democracy and it is now our duty to carry forward his legacy,” a younger member from the extended Mandavi family said.
It was in this polling centre, Bhima would have cast his vote had he been alive. The village was his political cradle.
Gadapal village has around 1100 electors and as per reports last received till 1.00 pm around 480 people had voted, registering around 40% polling. The polling commenced from 7am.
After the killing of the local MLA, the poll officials were apprehending that the villagers would not come out to vote as a pall of gloom descended on the village following the death of their popular leader.
They were, however, pleasantly surprised to see a large number of villagers queuing up to vote since early morning. “We are voting to pay our tribute to Bhima who stood for democratic values,” one of the electors said. In their grit, ballots once again emerged victorious in its fight against bullets.