Himansu Shekhar Rout

With the second phase of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha scheduled on May 20, public awareness is being generated to ensure maximum participation of people.

Stranded out of station

Sadly, scores of migrant workers from the Kantabanji Assembly seat of Bolangir where BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is contesting the election, are most likely to miss the opportunity to cast their votes, as they are stuck outside the state. 

Many of them may not be able to turn up before the voting day this time because of the restrictions imposed by their employers. 

As per reports, a video of some migrants went viral a few days ago. In the video, some people were seen shouting at someone asking to call the brick kiln owner about their return to home for polling.

Some people of Muribahal in Bolangir have gone to Narkhuda of Hyderabad along with their family members to work in a brick kiln. They are really desperate to come back home to exercise their franchise, but the brick kiln owner is allegedly not allowing them to do so.

Reportedly, their repeated pleas to the owner have gone unheeded. Moreover, hundreds of families from Turekela, Bangomunda and Muribahal blocks under the Kantabanji constituency have migrated to various parts of the country in search of livelihood. They have not returned as yet while their relatives are waiting for them. Their villages are wearing a deserted look.

Waiting for the return of the native

Ghanashyam Bag, a relative of a migrant of Kantabanji said, "If the brick kiln owners do not allow them to come back home, how can they vote? Besides, they might not have money with them.”

Basanti Bag, a relative of another migrant worker of the same area is not certain about their return for the polling. “How can I know if they would return before the voting day or not. Sardar is not allowing them to come back. I am alone at home to vote.”
Another migration-hit area is Ganjam, the home turf of the Chief Minister. The issue of migration took the centre stage after the Prime Minister during his recent visit criticised the BJD government and the Chief Minister over it.

'Want employment at our place'

Luckily, scores of young migrants, who work outside have returned home for voting.  However, they rued the fact that they cannot escape from the vicious circle of migration because of a lack of opportunities here.
Lipu Gouda, a resident of Bhatakumarada lamented, "We do not have any scope of working in any industry or alternative livelihood. Those coming back home will have to migrate again after staying for some days."

Expressing displeasure, Sudhir Nahak, another resident of Bhatakumarada said, "I came back home for polling, but will go back to my workplace. We want some opportunities in our locality so that we would not have to stay far off from our kin.”

  • Reported by:
  • Ghateswar Mishra , Silu Biswal