Capital’s migrants in queue to vote for opportunity

The residents say the government has not been able to provide them with even basic amenities.

Written by Shalini Narayan | New Delhi | Published: December 5, 2013 3:09 am

Sadhna Pathak is many things. She is a Purvanchali who grew up in Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh. She is a migrant who came to Delhi 30 years ago,looking for a means of living. She is a domestic help,who works in homes in RK Puram. Over the past few weeks,as politicians visited her locality with increasing frequency,she was constantly reminded of these identities.

One politician celebrated her for being Purvanchali. Others promised her dignity of labour and a permanent residence. But as she stood in a queue outside a polling booth in Sector 6,R K Puram,on Wednesday — mindful that unwashed utensils were waiting for her — only one identity mattered. Sadhna Pathak was poor. And all she wanted from the next government was food and water.

“For me,corruption is not an issue. Each party pitted one against the other on the issue of corruption. For me,it’s the rising cost of basic commodities like rice and vegetables that matter. Electricity matters. Water matters. When we stand in queues waiting for a DJB tanker to fill our buckets,fights break out. Where does the government disappear then? They promise us something each time. But nothing happens,” says the 52-year-old,a resident of KD Colony in Sector 6,RK Puram.

Pathak is one among the lakhs of Purvanchalis,migrants from states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,who constitute about 40 per cent of the total voters in the capital.

“I came here 30 years ago after my marriage. I have two sons now,both are drivers. They are earning their living,but just about. We still stay in these slum clusters. I have moved from one basti to another over the years and there seems to be no way out. We have been promised many things but nothing has been done so far,” Sadhna says,adjusting her ghunghat.

In Jangpura,at a JJ cluster comprising predominantly of Tamil migrants who settled in the capital some 25 years ago,the mood is one of unhappiness. The residents say the government has not been able to provide them with even basic amenities.

“Our Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) representative Vijaykanth has managed to field 11 candidates in the city. But we know that the fight will be between the Congress,BJP and the AAP. No matter which of these three wins,they will never come to us to address our problems. So where do we go,” asks 58-year-old Murugan,who has a tea stall in the area.

Brijesh Kumar (42) is a newspaper vendor. As he waits his turn at the Sangam Vihar polling booth with his wife,Kumar,a native of Vaishali district in Bihar,says,“For the last 20 years,I have been voting for the Congress. They promised several things but fulfilled only a few. There was no alternative till this elections. But now a third front in the form of AAP has come up. Hopefully,there will be change.”

But there are others like N Vijay Kumar,a native of Alappuzha in Kerala. He has been living in Delhi for the past 30 years with his wife and two daughters. A banker by profession,Kumar said,“We want a change and things seem different this time. People are turning out in large numbers to vote. We have been living here for so long and are no longer migrants. Our issues are now more localised.”

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