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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Migration haunts political parties in Bundelkhand

The candidates are urging voters to request their family members, who have migrated to neighbouring states and cities in search of job, to return home to vote on Monday.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 29, 2019 09:28 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, JHANSI/BANDA/JALAUN/HAMIRPUR
Lok Sabha,politics,BJP
According to residents, supporters of some of the candidates are also offering train and bus fare to voters.(HT Photo)

Migration factor in Bundelkhand region has returned to haunt candidates contesting Lok Sabha elections.

The candidates are urging voters to request their family members, who have migrated to neighbouring states and cities in search of job, to return home to vote on Monday.

According to residents, supporters of some of the candidates are also offering train and bus fare to voters.

Shivsharan Kushwaha, who is contesting election on a Congress ticket from Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, said: “On an average, about 50 families enrolled as voters are missing in majority of villages since they have migrated to cities in search of petty jobs. The party workers have requested people who are staying in the villages to urge their families and relatives to reach home on Monday to exercise their franchise.”

BSP candidate from Jalaun Ajay Singh Pankaj said missing voters were a major concern.

“We are urging the families of migrants to return for voting,” he said.

Ram Kishore Yadav of Tikaria village in Hamirpur said the workers of the BJP, BSP and Congress had collected the mobile numbers of voters who had migrated to Agra, Gwalior, Indore, Kanpur and Delhi in search of jobs.

Babul Kushwaha, a native of Chamrauha village, who works as a daily wager in Sagar (Madhya Pradesh), has returned home along with a dozen other villagers to vote.

“After casting our vote, we will return to Sagar to join duty. We earn around Rs 300 per day. Lack of job opportunities forced us to leave home,” he said.

A school teacher at a primary school in Dakore, Chandrapal Singh, claimed: “Migration is a major issue in Bundelkhand region and will affect the fortunes of candidates. In each Lok Sabha constituency, around 1-2 lakh voters are missing. Majority of them belong to Dalit and Backward communities.”

Social activist Raja Bhaiya of Attara town in Banda said around 30% youngsters from Bundelkhand region have migrated to other states and cities in search of job.

“Lack of job opportunities, farm distress, and climatic change leading to drought, hailstorm and flood have added to the plight of farmers. Landless labourers worked on agriculture land of farmers for livelihood. When farmers started migrating, labourers had no option but to move out in search of job,” he said.

“Once cottage industry flourished in Bundelkhand region providing job to thousands of people. Majority of these units have closed down forcing people to migrate to nearby regions,” said Surendra Agnihotri of Mahoba.

He said a large number of landless labourers were employed under MNREGA but a many of them did not receive wages. “Complaint was lodged against gram pradhans but no action was taken against them,” Agnihotri added.

The district magistrates have also launched campaigns to create awareness among voters urging people to request absentee family members to visit the polling booths to vote.

DM, Banda, Heera Lal, who had launched a drive to ensure 90% voting in Lok Sabha constituencies, has shot off letters to district magistrates in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and UP where a large number of people from Banda are working as migrant labourers to ensure that the workers get their daily wage as well as leave to visit home to vote.

“The district administration has also contacted the contractors who take the people to other states for job to send voters home to vote,” Lal said.

Addressing a rally on April 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appreciated the initiative of the Banda DM to motivate people to exercise their right to franchise.

District magistrate, Jhansi, Shiv Sahay Awasthi said: “Besides organising awareness campaigns, the district administration has sent yellow slips on which names of voters and polling booths is mentioned. People can contact voters, who have migrated to other cities, and ask them to visit their native place to vote.” Political observer Ashok Nigam said even as there was large scale migration in Bundelkhand region but it was never an election issue.

“Some political parties and social organisations have raised the matter of migration in the past but when elections are close, they dump the issue to focus on caste equations,” he said.

First Published: Apr 29, 2019 09:28 IST