Migrant workers return home to exercise voting rights

Berhampur: A large number of migrant workers, engaged in textiles industry in Gujarat’s Surat, are on their way home to villages in Ganjam district to cast their votes during the three-tier panchayat polls next month.

The usually-sleepy railway stations of Berhampur, Keshapur and Chhatrapur are suddenly seeing a surge in passengers alighting from Okha-Puri and Ahmedabad-Puri Express trains.

Close to eight lakh people from the district work at various industries, particularly in textile mills, in Gujarat.

“We are going home to vote in the panchayat election,” a group of Polsara-bound youth said as they waited at the bus stand in the city.

“One of my friends is running for the post of sarapanch in Beguniapoada block. I have come to cast my vote at the polls,” said Bipra Charan Gouda of Kodala village.

Kalu Pradhan, who works at a diamond cutting factory in Ahmedabad, said his sister is contesting for the post of the samiti member in Sorda block panchayat.

The home-bound workers, however, denied rumours that their train fair was paid by the candidates.

“It is not true. Since many of our friends and relatives are contesting in the panchayat elections we are going home to cast our votes in support of them,” one of the workers travelling in a group said.

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The sudden influx of the people in the rural areas also posed a headache for police. They fear their presence in large numbers might trigger tension in poll-bound villages.

“We will take precautionary measures for trouble-free elections,” a senior police officer said.

Elections for the posts of 69 zilla parishad, 5,503 sarpanch and samiti members and 7,001 ward members in the district will be held in five phases between February 13 and 21.