Mason enters Odisha's electoral arena for cause of labourers

Rama Chandra Badatya of Haridapadar village under Ganjam district is contesting from the Aska Assembly constituency on a CPI (ML) Red Star ticket.
Rama Chandra Badatya
Rama Chandra BadatyaPhoto | Special Arrangement

BHUBANESWAR: A mason with support of his family members - most of whom are daily wagers - has entered the poll fray for the cause of labourers and their rights.

Rama Chandra Badatya of Haridapadar village under Ganjam district is contesting from Aska Assembly constituency on a CPI (ML) Red Star ticket. His fight is aimed at ensuring a policy for the welfare of daily wagers and labourers in the state.

The 55-year-old has been into masonry for the last 40 years and earns a daily wage of Rs 700 with which he supports his family of six. “My sole purpose of fighting this election is to get a political representation that would help me raise issues faced by all kinds of labourers in front of the government. Be it skilled or those in unorganised sectors,” said the worker, a political greenhorn.

Badatya is associated with CPI (ML) for the last 15 years and has been raising issues related to local daily wagers, migrant and MGNREGS workers with the district administration.

“In the last 25 years, several schemes have been announced for labourers and migrant workers but the latter have not benefitted from any of it so far. Migration has increased but the governments, both in Centre and the state, have no data on how many unskilled or skilled labourers are unemployed and migrating for employment every year,” said the contender, who has studied up to Class V.

While Badatya’s wife Kumari works as a labourer in MGNREGS projects within the block, the couple’s sons - Narayan and Dandapani are also daily wagers. While Narayan migrates to Surat every year for work, Dandapani is also a mason and assists his father everyday. Badatya’s two daughters are looking for jobs after completing their graduation last year.

With a meagre savings of Rs 42,000 and immovable property worth Rs 2 lakh, Badatya is spending from his pocket to reach out to voters. His family also contributes towards meeting his campaign expenses.

Unlike the popular candidates in fray for the Assembly constituency, Badatya’s campaign has no huge convoys of vehicles or hordes of supporters. With a handful of party workers, family members and well-wishers, Badatya has been going door-to-door requesting people to vote for his cause. He has already covered every household in 25 panchayats within the constituency so far.

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The New Indian Express