A crowd of 10 cramped Gupta Cloth House in Ludhiana Thursday. They were not customers. The son of a Bihar candidate was addressing a meeting, arranged by shop-owner Vipan Gupta. Ludhiana is the workplace of an estimated 2,000 voters on the rolls of Harlakhi constituency of Madhubani.
Shiv Chander Prasad’s father is a rebel RJD candidate, Ramashis Yadav. A former JD(U) MLA, Yadav lost in 2005 and 2010 on an RJD ticket. “The Congress was given the seat this time, though my father has worked there for many years,” Prasad said.
The RJD’s Punjab president, Sanjay Kumar, is accompanying the rebel’s son on his two-day visit. “Ramashis is a close friend, so I am arranging his meetings in a personal capacity,” Kumar said. “After he leaves, we will handle his campaign.”
Prasad has held nukkad meetings and also gone from door to door. “I have tried to meet as many voters as I can. I have asked them to come to vote on November 5,” he said. “They will arrange their own trip.”
Kumar is also working for RJD candidates. “Party candidates from Sitamarhi, Parihar, Sursand, Bajpati have approached me and I am appealing for votes in pockets where those voters live.” Teams are working also in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda, he said.
Parveen Bansal, BJP district president, said, “We are motivating people to go to Bihar. A number have assured us they will go in time for polling.” The Congress’s district unit, on the other hand, said it has got no instructions to mobilise migrant voters.
For the voter, Diwali business and paddy procurement may get in the way. And some don’t want to travel.
“I am from Supaul,” said Saryanarayan, 45, at Khanna Grain Market. “I have worked in Punjab for 25 years and have no interest in the polls. Earning is more important.”
Ranjit Kumar is of the same village. “We have so much work in the procurement season. We cannot afford to leave work.”
Sunil Kumar, 24, of Madhepura said, “I have lived in Punjab for eight years. Though my name is registered in Bihar and I have never voted, I will not go there just to vote.”