Ahmedabad: Migration may affect the voting pattern in the tribal belt in the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat. The state has seen a sharp movement towards industrialization and urbanization in recent years.
According to a report in the Times of India, 17.57 percent of state’s inhabitants are in the tribal belt. In the earlier polls lakhs of tribals were seen moving to Bt cotton farms of Saurashtra and North Gujarat to earn a living as farm workers. This time around too lack of sufficient rains and poor monsoon has resulted in tribals moving to the areas where industrialization and urbanization is taking place.
Tribals are not just going to traditional cities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot, as was the trend in the past. It is being increasingly seen that they are now going to Dahej – the hub of Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Industrial Region, to Dholera Special Investment Region and to the Sanand to Bechraji belt.
The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is also drawing the tribals in a big way as real estate activity is taking shape. The wages that tribals get in these places are much higher than what they get in tribal areas or on farms.
"Their per day wages in construction is between Rs 250 and Rs 300, which is double what they are paid under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS)", Vipul Pandya, who runs an NGO working with migrant labour was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "Under NREGS, tribals often become victims of fraud, and get as low as Rs 70 or 80 per day", he added.
In the past, tribals were brought back by candidates on voting day. But it may not be possible to do so this time because of a stricter electoral code of conduct. "Hence, there is bound to be a dearth of tribal voters in the eastern tribal belt, especially in the 26 tribal seats and another 10-odd seats where tribals have sizeable influence", Pandya further said.