The bright lights of Gujarat are luring the tribals living across the border in Madhya Pradesh, and giving headaches to the Congress, which has been in control of Jhabua for decades.
Migration is nothing new for the district. But now, the migrants are coming back with the Modi mantra. Or worse, they are not coming back at all.
“This time we will vote according to our conscience,” warns Sagar Halatia of Samoi, a border village. The caution is worrisome. For one-third of the district’s 650,000 voters are below 29 years of age. A chunk of them, educated or not, work in Gujarat.
“The situations in Gujarat and MP are different. Development is zero here,” says Kalu of Masuria, who often goes to Gujarat for work. The locals of Samoi prefer Dahod to Jhabua even for medical treatment, though both towns are a mere 30 km away.
Officially, the Congress is keeping a stiff upper lip. Kurshid Anwar, MPCC vice-president and in charge of Jhabua, claims Modi is an “absolute stranger” for tribals and the SC population.
But local leaders privately disagree.
The building tension is voiced by Kalavati Bhuria, niece of MP Congress committee chief Kantilal Bhuria, who is contesting as an Independent after being denied the ticket by the Congress. “We are worried. They are our voters.”