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Since 1st March, 1999
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Parties to lose workers’ votes
Mausam (top) and Ketabuddin

Malda, Dec. 23: The deferring of the Sujapur bypolls has become a matter of concern for both the Congress and the CPM as at least 25,000 voters who work in other states are set to return to their jobs by the end of the year.

Since yesterday, Congress workers have been approaching labour contractors urging them not to ask the workers to leave before January 5, the new date set for the byelections. The voting was scheduled to take place on December 27 but the Election Commission yesterday announced the delay citing the non-availability of central security forces.

The CPM camp claimed that the Congress dealt itself a body blow by insisting on central para-military forces.

Malda Congress president and Lok Sabha member Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury admitted that the party is set to lose “a little” grip on the outcome of the bypolls because of the labourers returning to other states. “However, we are relieved that the commission has honoured our request to sent in central forces during the byelections,” Khan Chowdhury said. The Congress has fielded the MP’s niece Mausam Noor.

The people on whose labour their near and dear ones subsist said they were helpless.

Rashidul Shiekh, a mason who works in Mumbai, said he had come home during Id and had decided to return after casting his vote as local political leaders had requested him to. “I have a ticket back to Mumbai for December 30. I had taken an advance of Rs 1,500 from my employers and it was spent during our festival. I have to return to work,” he said.

Sitting in the party office, CPM district secretary Jiban Moitra said his party was not averse to the deployment of central forces.

“I am not sure that if about 25,000 voters from an electorate of 1.66 lakh leave, it will have a major impact on the outcome of the polls. But I do not think that it will be to our advantage for there are our supporters among those who work outside,” Moitra said. The CPM’s candidate is Md Ketabuddin.

The rescheduling of the byelection date has also had an effect on government programmes that were supposed to be held after December 27. “We will have to postpone several meetings, one of them on literacy scheduled for January 5. I have asked the commission whether the district book fair can be inaugurated a day after polling takes place,” said district magistrate Sridhar Ghosh.

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