Around 80,000 migrant plumbers, weavers and workers could well be the deciding factor in the Rajnagar and Aul Assembly seats and also Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat, which are going to polls on April 29.
With poll fever rising, a large number of migrant plumbers and other workers are all set to return home to cast their votes. Plumbers from New Delhi and other cities have already booked train tickets to reach homes to exercise their franchise.
All the three candidates of Congress, BJD and BJP of Rajnagar and Aul Assembly seats and candidates for Kendrapara Lok Sabha hope to win the upcoming polls by securing a major chunk of votes of migrant plumbers, who are working in major cities of the country and also the Middle East countries. Family members and political leaders are calling on the migrant workers to return homes during the polls, said Prasant Nayak (67), a former plumber of Patarapur village under Pattamundai block.
Congress, BJP and BJD leaders are also sparing no effort to woo the migrant plumbers, weavers and other workers. In the recent past, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had visited Surat to woo the migrant workers. Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also rushed to Surat many times to solicit votes of migrant workers in favour of the saffron party.
BJP Lok Sabha candidate Baijayant Panda is also in touch with the migrant workers of New Delhi and other places. But Congress is lagging behind in winning the hearts of migrant workers, said Sangram Behera of Iswarapur, a plumber, who returned from New Delhi recently.
There is hardly any village in Rajnagar, Aul, Rajkanika and Pattamundai blocks without its share of migrant plumbers. “We have prepared a list of migrant workers of our constituency and urged them to return to their villages to cast vote in favour of BJD as the ruling party has carried out several developmental works in rural areas,” said Dhruba Sahoo, BJD candidate of Rajnagar Assembly segment.
Many trained plumbers also work independently to eke out their living thanks to the establishment of the State Institute of Plumbing and Technology (SIPT) at Pattamundai, the ‘plumbers’ cradle’ of the district. “Most of the plumbers will cast their votes in favour of the ruling party,” said BJD MLA candidate from Aul Pratap Keshari Deb.
However, BJP district unit president Duryodhan Sahoo said, “The State Government has done nothing for the welfare of migrant workers in the district. Baladevjew power loom at Kendrapara was closed 20 years back. As a result, around 4,000 weavers lost their jobs. Due to the closure of the power loom, they were forced to work in Surat. These migrant workers will vote for BJP to teach BJD a lesson this time.”