Rayagada: In the absence of mobile network, digital campaign amid Covid curbs has indeed become arduous for candidates contesting panchayat polls in the remote hilly areas of Rayagada district.
A case in point is here: Candidates hitting the electioneering trail are seen climbing atop a hill at Sandubadi bordering Andhra Pradesh to connect digitally with voters in the remote panchayats which receive signal from a mobile tower set up in a village in Andhra Pradesh, a report said.
Accompanied by their limited number of supporters, the candidates are travelling for five to 10 km daily and climbing the hill to access mobile signals received from a mobile tower at Kandukupa village under Gumma-Lakshmipur block in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh.
There, they connect with the voters through social media. As many as 13 panchayats bordering the neighbouring state are under Rayagada-B zone.
People of Sandubadi, Kereda and Jemadeipentha panchayats bordering neighbouring state only get mobile signals from the tower in the Andhra village if they climb the hill.
The rest 10 panchayats — Durgapadu, Mirabali, Pipiliguda, Dangalodi, Karubai, Baisingh, Alubadi, Karli and Bairagi Halua – do not get signals at all.
As a result, the residents as well as the candidates have to suffer a lot due to lack of mobile connectivity.
In this situation, many candidates are engaging their supporters to undertake door-to-door campaign at night to avoid getting caught by poll observers.
The candidates are uploading their photos, slogans and poll promises in social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, requesting voters to cast their votes in their favour.
Many of the candidates are also accompany their kin and supporters in these villages, seeking for votes. Candidates after getting symbols have launched campaign in their respective areas.
They devised various strategies to woo the voters.
Given the Covid surge, the State Election Commission has emphasised on digital campaign for the candidates as campaign modes like rallies, public meetings and door-to-door visits involving mass gatherings will lead to spread of deadly virus.
As a result, candidates in various parts of the state have taken up digital campaign through social media platforms to connect with the voters.
The digital campaign has proved beneficial for them as it saves a lot of time, and money. However, lack of mobile connectivity has proved digital campaign to be an uphill task for the candidates contesting in these remote panchayats in the district.
They have been forced to climb atop a hill at Sandubadi to get mobile signal from a tower in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and connect with the voters through the social media platforms.
The candidates and the villagers have demanded that the state government to intervene and set up a mobile tower in their area.
Anand Bachel, naib sarpanch of Mirabali panchayat said that in the absence of any alternative they have to depend on Andhra Pradesh’s mobile tower to connect with their kin and voters.
Lack of mobile network has also proved deterrent in availing healthcare services, online studies for the children and other facilities.