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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Calcutta residents stare at difficult days as workforce leaves city to vote on Phase 7 of Lok Sabha polls

This critical period promises chaos, as a substantial portion of the workforce engaged in myriad professions across the metropolis prepares to abandon the city and return to their villages to exercise voting rights.

PTI Calcutta Published 30.05.24, 04:07 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. File

No joy for residents of the City of Joy who seem to have been thrust into a whirlwind of anxiety and are bracing for a possible disruption in their daily lives starting this Friday.

The source of their dread is the looming Lok Sabha polls on June 1 when the city and its suburbs vote and its aftermath till the results are announced on June 4.

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This critical period promises chaos, as a substantial portion of the workforce engaged in myriad professions across the metropolis prepares to abandon the city and return to their villages to exercise voting rights.

Polling will take place in various constituencies in Calcutta and its adjacent districts of North, and South 24 Parganas in the final leg of the general elections.

A large number of workers from these districts, who carve out a living in Calcutta based out of temporary accommodations, will journey back home to cast their vote, come what may.

For many, this exercise is driven by senses of pride, empowerment, and even festive spirit. For others, it's a golden opportunity to reunite with family and friends, organise feasts, and revel in the act of voting. But for most, it’s an obligation they cannot afford to miss.

Tapas Adhikari, residing in Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency and working as a security guard in central Calcutta, embodies this spirit.

At the cost of precious loss to his daily wage, Adhikari never misses voting whenever an election comes knocking. "I have to go to cast my vote. Otherwise, I will not get any help from the party," he said.

His frustration was palpable as he recounted how, despite his loyalty, he sometimes misses out on government benefits if the ruling party even got a whiff of his indifference to vote.

In contrast, Biswajit Baidya, another security guard in Salt Lake, seemed driven by a sense of civic duty. "I travel from Jaynagar, nearly 70 km from Calcutta, to vote every time. It’s my duty towards my state and country," he asserts, his eyes gleaming with determination. He meticulously follows newspapers and TV bulletins to make an informed choice.

Nilima Jana, a domestic help from a village near the Sundarbans, is caught in a different kind of bind. She must return home to vote, fearing for her family's safety.

"My family might land in trouble if I don't vote. I have elderly parents and in-laws there," she says, worry etched on her face. Yet, a smile breaks through as she adds, "I also get to see my son and daughter." This sudden mass exodus of voters, who shoulder crucial responsibilities on which the city thrives and whose criticality is felt only when they go missing, is likely to leave Calcutta reeling in the days ahead.

Residents left without domestic help, security personnel, drivers, conductors, and home medical assistants, all vanishing only to resurface after the election results are declared, would be forced to fend for themselves.

Commuters are also likely to be thrown into disarray in the wake of the Election Commission and state police commandeering vehicles and buses for election duty, disrupting the already strained public transportation.

Post-COVID-19, the number of buses and minibuses has dwindled. The recent severe cyclone Remal further compounded the issue, with many drivers leaving to support their families.

Tapan Banerjee, general secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, laments, "From May 29, we’ve lost about 2,200 buses out of our fleet of 2,500-3,000, and 250 minibuses to poll duty. Some drivers and conductors have also gone home to vote."

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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