Tremors of the democratic kind recently shook Kangku circle headquarters in Lower Subansiri district, with a sea of people taking to the streets on November 18, parading a clear statement: They will not vote in the Likabali bye-poll unless the government gives them proper roads in the circle.
Kangku is composed of 24 notified villages, connected by unpaved roads which have not been upgraded since the time the villages themselves were established. The circle was notified 27 years back, in 1990.
The news of the mini uprising made front-page news in the state’s dailies. However, it wasn’t the first time that such an event unfolded in Arunachal Pradesh. Back in 2014, the people of Sissen village in the then East Siang district actually boycotted the assembly elections for exactly the same reason – road. It acted as a wake-up call for the state government, which has since started to lay roads and bridges to the village, under the PMGSY. That set a precedent which will, it is to be hoped, be emulated in other parts of the state.
Notwithstanding what the politicians make of it, it is certainly a good sign in a healthy democracy if the people stand up and demand their basic rights; and if the demand is ignored, they have the right to press it through democratic means available to them. After all, there is a reason why villagers stand in long, tiresome queues to vote.
The voters of Sissen and Kangku have set examples worthy of emulating. Development must begin in the villages, the Father of the Nation had said. Well, so must revolution.