To increase voter turnout in the upcoming Assembly elections in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, officials of Jhabua district administration visited different parts of Gujarat and urged migrant labourers to return to their state and cast votes in the November 28 polls. The visiting teams also assessed the living conditions of the migrant workers from neighbouring Jhabua to prepare a report of their survey on parameters like health and education of migrant workers.
The visit also assumes significance in the backdrop of the spate of attacks on migrant workers in Gujarat following the rape of a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district allegedly by a labourer from Bihar.
Eleven teams from Jhabua, comprising officials of health, revenue, labour, women & child development, and education departments, met and interacted with their Gujarat counterparts, seeking their help in their endeavour.
“The prime focus is to revive the voter turnout of Jhabua district. Most of the migrating labourers are not permanently settled in Gujarat. The outflow from the district is primarily seasonal. Our teams have urged voters to stay back after Diwali or visit Jhabua on the polling day and caste their votes. We have also urged their employers to grant them paid leaves so that they can come and caste their votes,” said Jhabua District Collector Ashish Saxena.
According to the officials, Jhabua with three Assembly seats has a voter population of over seven lakh. Over 25,000 people migrate from the district to work as contractual labourers at factories, construction sites and agricultural farms in various districts in Gujarat. In the last last two Assembly elections — 2008 and 2013 — the voter turnout in Jhabua had dropped below 50 per cent, said the officials.
The officials visited Ahmedabad, Anand, Surat, Bhavnagar, Chhota Udepur, Dahod, Jamnagar, Kutch, Surendranagar, Rajkot and Vadodara during their visit, ending on Tuesday. They also appealed to various district administrations and owners of industries and factories to provide paid leaves to the labourers to enable them to return to Jhabua and caste their votes.
“We have identified 13 pockets where migrant labourers from Jhabua are residing in Vadodara city. We spoke to them and urged them to caste their votes. Apart from that, we surveyed regarding vaccinations and education of children of migrant workers from Jhabua. A consolidated report will be prepared and submitted to the Collector in due time which most likely would pave ways for new health and education schemes and initiatives for migrant labourers,” said an official of Jhabua district administration here.
The official also said they spoke to police commissioners and heads of police departments of various districts “to asses the situation in view of the attacks on migrant labourers that took place in the state”.