Hit by note ban, vote of Ludhiana industry, migrant workers split between Congress, AAP | punjab$dont-miss | Hindustan Times
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Hit by note ban, vote of Ludhiana industry, migrant workers split between Congress, AAP

With 14 constituencies, Ludhiana district forms a large chunk of Malwa region’s 69 seats, out of the 117 in the Punjab assembly. In the industrial hub of the state, industrialists and migrant workers account for around 33% of total voters — 24 lakh — and have a dominant presence in five seats.

punjab Updated: Feb 07, 2017 20:30 IST
Sumeer Singh
Migrant labourers in a queue to vote in Ludhiana on Saturday, February 4.
Migrant labourers in a queue to vote in Ludhiana on Saturday, February 4. (Representative image by Jagtinder Singh Grewal/HT)

LUDHIANA

With 14 constituencies, Ludhiana district forms a large chunk of Malwa region’s 69 seats, out of the 117 in the Punjab assembly. In the industrial hub of the state, industrialists and migrant workers account for around 33% of total voters — 24 lakh — and have a dominant presence in five seats.

The ruling SAD-BJP government has lost its currency with industry after demonetisation and some big and medium corporates hit by the note ban even held meetings with their workers prior to elections to persuade them to vote for the Congress.

But migrant workers living in dismal conditions revealed that their lot has not improved in alternating governments of the ruling SAD-BJP or the Congress and they see hope of a change in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

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President of Asia’s largest association of cycle industry, United Cycle Parts and Manufacturers’ Association (UCPMA), Charanjit Vishivkarma highlights the employer-worker divide in terms of voting preferences.

“A substantial vote share of cycle makers went to the Congress. But a big chunk of total 1.25 lakh migrant workers in the cycle industry voted for the AAP. Some seats had a close triangular contest among the SAD-BJP, Congress and AAP,” he says.

Ludhiana South and Atam Nagar, the two seats of Bains brothers, Simarjeet and Balwinder Bains, who had forged an alliance with the AAP, too have a strong presence of migrant workers and industrialists.

Narendar Bhamra, president of Fasteners’ Association of India, said small traders have been worst hit by the note ban. “Apart from anti-incumbency, the SAD-BJP will also bear the brunt of demonetisation,” he said.

A migrant worker-turned-contractor from Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, who is settled in Ludhiana from the last 19 years, says 90% of migrants workers in Ludhiana are from UP and Bihar. “A large chunk of migrant workers here come from Rae Bareli, Amethi, Faizabad, Gonda and Azamgarh districts of UP. The first two are Congress strongholds and in the remaining three districts, the grand alliance announced last month by the Congress and Samajwadi Party has tilted migrant vote in the former’s favour. So the Congress too got a chunk of migrant votes,” he said, requesting anonymity.

The industry also cites revival of realty sector during Congress regime (2002-2007) as a reason for supporting Congress.

Badish Jindal, vice-chairman of National Productivity Council, said: “Big corporates and realtors have given all-out support to the Congress while small and medium scale manufacturers were inclined towards the AAP in hope of reduction in corruption in government offices, tax rationalisation and end of inspector raj.”