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Gujarat: Cong, BJP woo tribals with cash
December 13, 2007 10:46 IST
With the first phase of Assembly elections in Gujarat over, both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are shifting their focus to the state's central region by rolling out cash incentives to the influential tribal migrant population.
Senior leaders of both the parties say they are trying to tap the vote bank of tribal migrants, who form a major chunk of the voters in central Gujarat.
BJP sources said the party had already got in touch with several labourers and asked them to come back to their constituency to exercise their franchise.
"We are ready to pay the migrant labourers double their daily wages to come and vote. We are also ready to pay for their to and fro transportation," said a senior BJP leader in Dahod.
The Congress has also started a similar initiative and has already compiled the data of voters here who currently work in various parts of the state.
Of the 42 seats in central Gujarat that will go to polls in the second phase on December 16, six are reserved as tribal constituencies.
All these constituencies -- Jhalod, Limbdi, Dahod, Limkheda, Sankheda and Randhikpur -- are in Dahod district. While political parties are trying to woo the migrant
labourers, voters in various constituencies of Dahod are apprehensive of coming back to cast their votes.
"What development are the politicians talking about? My husband has to stay out and work in far off places for most part of the year. Development for me is when my husband stays with me," says Shanti Nayak, a resident of Dahod city which is known as the state's "labour market".
In many villages like Bambela, which is close to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, over 50 per cent of the residents are away, working in various constructions sites.
"My elder brother and his wife are away in Vadodara, working at a construction site. They don't have any plans of coming back before mid-January," says Bikam Malvia from Jhalod.
"There is no development here. Water, electricity and roads are not there," says Malvia.
While villagers might be upset and not willing to come back and vote, party workers are optimistic that their efforts will pay off.
"Most of the people we have got in touch have put forward their wishes to come back and cast their votes. We are trying to bring maximum labourers back," said a BJP party worker.