Just 500 km to vote but some won’t make it | India News

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KOLKATA: The Nitish-Lalu-Modi debate is no longer confined to Bihar only. Kolkata, home to many migrant workers from neighbouring Bihar and Jharkhand, is an integral part of it. While some plan to visit home during the elections, some might not make it this time — mostly due to financial crunch.
Ajit Kumar, a resident of Nawada district, runs a roadside kiosk selling sattu in central Kolkata.Ajit is set to leave for home on April 18 and plans to get back to work by April 22. “I plan my visits on an election year so that I get to see my family for a few days as well. But the visit is short this year as I had just been back home when my granddaughter fell ill,” he added.
While Ajit will still stay a few days at home, Rakesh Kumar, a paan shop owner in eastern Kolkata’s Saltlake area, will be on a whirlwind visit to Darbhanga from May 12 to May 14. “I have recently brought my wife and two kids to Kolkata. Both my children, an 8-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter now study in a school in Kolkata. It is still a new city for them. I will have to come back early for their sake,” he said.
A resident of Samastipur, which also goes to election on May 13, Madan Singh said they can’t afford to keep their paan shop shut so while he will go back home and vote, his brother Manoj will be back in Kolkata to manage their shop. “We are going through some financial issues right now and cannot keep the shop shut for even a day,” he said.
Subhash Yadav is one of those who would not be able to go home to vote. Yadav is a rickshaw-puller in north Kolkata and has been in Kolkata for over 40 years now. “I have gone back home to vote most years for the first 20-25 years. But now I hardly make enough to sustain my nuclear set-up here. Visiting home once a year is a luxury,” added the Darbhanga resident.
Manoj Kumar Rajak, who works as a driver in Kolkata, said he feels it is important to exercise his right to vote. He feels the govt has provided many amenities in recent years but there are still some issues that need resolution — job opportunities being one of them. “The govt has built good roads, and infrastructure and made many services available,” he said. But Rajak also feels no one should have to stay away from family to earn a living. “If I had work in Hazaribagh would I stay here? Never. There should be more opportunities made available to us so that we do not have to leave our families behind,” said the father of two.

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