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.