Bihar Elections: Will migrant workers play a key role in deciding Bihar’s election win

Bihar is in grip of rampant unemployment and the horizon of difficulties expands as more than 30 lakh migrant labourers, who returned home during the lockdown are in distress.

The voter turnout reveals that the first two phases of Bihar elections saw an increase in voting percentage in areas where a higher percentage of migrant voters have returned. Despite the shadow of the deadly coronavirus, the voter turnout of the first phase broke all records. In the first phase, the voter turnout in Bihar has been recorded at 55.69 percent, higher than the 2015 Bihar Assembly election and 2019 Lok Sabha election. Whereas the second phase recorded 54 percent voter turnout.

Bhagalpur district has over 49,000 migrants and it recorded 57.04% turn out against 48.17% in 2015. Phase 2 assembly seats of Bhagalpur repeated its performance. Banka with 31,712 migrant workers recorded a 59.65% against 58.02% in 2015, Arwal with 18,000 plus migrant workers registered a 55.63% turn out against 52.78% in 2015.

When you compare these numbers with that of urban voters then you can see a clear disparity. The capital city Patna recorded the lowest voter turnout with only 48 percent of voters turning up to the polling booths. Compared to the 2015 elections, there was a huge gap in turnout percentage in Patna, 8% less than the last time.

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Ancient city of Gaya followed suit and saw over 82,300 migrants return and recorded 58.65%, against 57.24% in 2015. Similarly, Jamui with 22,000 plus returned migrants 60.30% voted, significantly up from 56.5% turnout of 2015.

Three lakh migrant workers registered as voters in Bihar recently in 38 districts. Nearly, 18.8 lakh migrants have returned as per data shared with ECI by the state’s disaster management department.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is leaving no stone unturned to attack the incumbent government. He alleged that the BJP-JD(U) coalition ‘looted’ Bihar and did not help migrant workers during the lockdown. “The Congress had arranged buses for the movement of migrant workers. We are not in power so we could not do it for millions, but we helped as many people as we could,” says Rahul Gandhi.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had announced in March that his government will coordinate with other states and bear the expenses of migrant workers. Bihar government had released Rs 100cr from the Chief Minister’s relief fund for setting up shelters for rickshaw pullers and daily-wage earners.

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