Mass migration may affect voter turnout in Bihar’s Seemanchal

  • Srinand Jha, Hindustan Times, Saharsa/Darbangha
  • Updated: Nov 04, 2015 00:49 IST
Voters queue up to cast their vote for final phase of the Bihar Assembly Elections. The mass migration of men from Seemanchal may have an effect on the turnout. (HT Photo)

Will the “migrant’s factor” determine the poll outcome on November 5? In Mahishi village, situated on the banks of the mighty Kosi, 62-year-old Rajendra Jha elaborates on this theory: “Anybody here in the age group of 15-45 has already — or is in the process of — left for the paddy fields of Punjab for the harvest season. Only the aged, women and children remain. There will be an absence of approximately 40% voters at all booths in the region”.

Mahishi’s Booth Level Officer Sudhir Bhagat corroborates: “There are no men in any of the homes. The polling percentage can be expected to remain low.”

In Saharsa to Katihar, Purnea, Darbangha or Madhubani — districts where polling is scheduled for November 5 — able-bodied men migrate in droves. The Amritsar-bound Jan Sadharan Express — also called the Palayan Express (migrants express) — has passengers sitting atop train compartments. “The desperation of people here to migrate to earn a living is heart wrenching,” Saharsa-based social worker Amit Anand said.

“Migration is an issue, but administrative neglect is a bigger one. Better road and rail connectivity, more ATMs and an implementable water management policy — these are issues that none of the political parties seem concerned about,” said a local journalist.

“The absence of men voters would certainly impact the poll prospects of both the NDA and the Grand Alliance,” he added.

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