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In Gujarat, around 15 lakh migrant workers didn’t vote

Thursday, 1 May 2014 - 7:31pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

Most of them are daily wage-earners, who could not go to their native places to exercise their franchise

Nearly 15 lakh migrant workers failed to vote this time. “Most of the workers are daily wage-earners. Hence, 90-95% of them could not go to their native place to vote,” said DS Nayak, manager of Bandhkam Majdoor Sangathan, an NGO working with migrant workers in the state.

Migrant workers across the state constitute around 3 per cent of the population. Most of them are residents of Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh and they work in construction sites, brick-manufacturing industry and other daily businesses as labourers.

According to a survey done by the Centre for Development Alternatives, around 2 lakh migrant labourers work in various sectors in Ahmedabad and a large number have failed to go their native place to vote.

“In our survey, we had questioned migrant workers about the upcoming Lok Sabha election. Apart from money, they said that they go home usually during the festive season. As they had already gone during Holi and Ugadi, they do not want to go now just to vote,” said professor Indira Hirway of CDA.

When dna spoke to Gopal Krishna, an activist working for migrants working at the ship-breaking factories in Alang, he said: “They struggle to feed their family. So, how can they afford to go home and vote?”

“When workers migrate to a place, they need to register themselves as voters there. However, due to lack of knowledge and motivation, they generally do not do so,” said Rathor.

“Since the election date was declared, our nodal officers are visiting most of the areas with a high population of migrants to spread awareness and encourage them go to their native place to vote,” said additional chief electoral officer AS Manak.

Nearly 60 % of the migrants reported having missed voting at least once as they were away on search of work. There is a need to make special provisions to ensure the voting rights of migrants irrespective of their multi-location habitat, reported in a survey, Political Inclusion of Seasonal Migrant Workers in India: Perceptions, Realities and Challenges.

“Proper awareness campaign can needle these lower strata of society to vote and raise their unheard voices,” said Smitha Chavda of Akhandjyot, an NGO, working with migrant workers.

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