Issue Date: Nov 15, 2010
This was the fourth panchayat poll when Shila Devi of Nayamatpur village cast her vote. The polls usually were a staid affair, with two or three candidates campaigning on bullock carts or on foot. But this year, the 50-something was struck by the dust raised by cavalcades of SUVs, all plastered with posters and packed with campaigners. Nineteen candidates from her village of 4,000 were in the fray for the post of gram pradhan. Liquor flowed freely; saris and other gifts were in plenty too. Never before did Devi see such intensity during a panchayat election. Nor did Uttar Pradesh.