LUCKNOW: For the first time since Independence, the Vantangiyas (forest dwellers) of Gorakhpur and adjoining districts will participate in the panchayat elections and elect their own village head as the first-phase voting for Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls gets underway on April 15.
The tribe lives in dense woods of Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Gonda and Balrampur in eastern UP.
While Gorakhpur district has five Vantangiya villages, the adjoining Maharajganj has 18 and Gonda and Balrampur have five each. These areas became revenue villages in 2017.
“The election will result in their real empowerment,” says Manoj Singh, a social activist. The Gorakhpur vantangiya villages will vote in the first phase. Over 3,500 of tribal voters will choose their own gram pradhan.
These villagers had voted for the first time in the 2019 general election. But the panchayat polls are more relatable to them as the elected person will be living among them and listen to their day-to-day problems.
CM Yogi Adityanath has had a long relationship with the tribe as he has been celebrating all major festivals with them in their villages as the Gorakhpur MP and Mahant of the revered Gorakhnath Peeth. After becoming CM, he has kept his date with the tribe on Diwali.