For five years when it remained a “reserved” seat, Malasa got not a single nomination for the post of either gram pradhan or panchayat membership as Dalits were too scared to come forward in a village that was dominated by Thakurs.
Now that the reserved tag has been removed and the seat made a general category, eight nominations have come in in two days of filing of papers. All eight — Ashish Singh, Sushil Singh, Asha Singh, Atul Singh, Pramod Singh, Brijendra Singh, Rakesh Singh and Raghuveer Singh — are Thakurs.
Malasa village in Ramabai Nagar district had been declared a reserved seat in the August 2005 gram panchayat elections. There were no nominations that time, or in the by-elections held on seven different occasions to find a Dalit gram pradhan. The 15 gram panchayat seats too have been lying vacant since August 2005.
Out of the total 4,010 voters in the village, over 3,800 comprise Thakurs and Brahmins, while the Dalits number around 150.
Ashish Singh, among those to have filed nomination for the sarpanch post, claims there was never any pressure on the Dalits not to contest. “None of the Thakurs put pressure on the Dalits, but they did not want to contest the elections.”
Singh also believes that with one day left to file nomination, the number of candidates in the fray could go up to 12. Rajesh Singh, who is also contesting, says: “We have always supported the Dalit residents of the village, and we are optimistic that they will support the Thakur candidates.”