PARADIP: Around 80,000 Bengali and Telugu voters, who have been settled in different parts of Jagatsinghpur district, are going to play a crucial role in deciding the fate of political parties in the upcoming elections.
Bengali and Telugu voters, including Bangladeshi infiltrators, are spread across Paradip and Balikuda-Erasama Assembly constituencies. Referred to as settlers, they migrated to Paradip and Erasama for fishing activities and are also engaged in different industries as daily wagers.
Political patronage was extended to the settlers by successive governments to cultivate them as vote banks.
In 2005, the district administration had served notice under Section 3 of Foreigners Act to 887 Bangladeshi infiltrators for deportation. They sought the intervention of the Orissa High Court and National Human Right Commission against the move and their cases are pending in the court.
Meanwhile, these communities have managed to get birth certificates, ration cards, Voter ID and Aadhaar cards. Even some have availed land records and houses under IAY and ‘Mo Kudia’ Yojana.
Besides, around 10,000 Telugu fishermen from Andhra Pradesh have settled at Sandhakuda slum in Paradip and they play a significant role during the elections.
Meanwhile, political parties have already started door-to-door campaign in Paradip and Balikuda-Erasama Assembly constituencies to woo these voters.
Telugu voters M Deudu and Suba Rao said, “As Sandhakuda slum has no Telugu school, we demand an educational institution in the area for our children.”
They also demanded that a fishing auction hall be set up at the harbour.