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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Sandeshkhali's voter turnout may be hit with most men working in other states

According to the Election Commission, Sandeshkhali has a total of 245,757 voters, comprising 125,976 men and 119,775 women.
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 16:36 IST
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 16:36 IST

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Kolkata: Amidst the hustle for survival, the riverine island of Sandeshkhali in Basirhat subdivision of North 24 Parganas district finds itself at a crossroads. As men from almost every household chase livelihood opportunities afar, the looming shadow of their absence threatens to cast a decisive impact on the elections.

People like Asim Koyal, Saumik Halder, Biswajit Maiti, Rabindranath Mondal, Dulal Roy, and numerous others are currently in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Delhi for livelihood.

Sabitri Maiti, a resident of Sandeshkhali Block 1, shared her plight and claimed, "My husband Rabin has been in Chennai for two years. Though we have agricultural land, it was forcefully taken by Shajahan Sheikh and his associates, Uttam Sardar and Shibu Hazra. My husband had no choice but to leave West Bengal to support our family."

Rabin, who works as a mason, couldn't come to vote because he was denied leave by his employer. "I had visited home in February. I have been denied leave now. Also, coming home to vote would mean a substantial pay cut, which I can't afford," he added.

Sandeshkhali had shot into the limelight on January 5 when and Enforcement Department team was attacked there when it had gone to raid the premises of TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh in connection with an alleged ration scam. Sandeshkhali under Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal will vote on Saturday.

Sukanta Hazra, 27, also couldn't secure leave from his local employer in Gujarat, according to his father.

Arup Nandi, employed at a jewellery shop in Ahmedabad, justified his migration. "Why didn't we start farming on our land in Sandeshkhali? Because there are no job opportunities or conducive business conditions due to the intimidation by Shajahan and his group. Leaving was our only option."

According to the Election Commission, Sandeshkhali has a total of 245,757 voters, comprising 125,976 men and 119,775 women.

Suprakash Modak, an octogenarian and a revered figure in Sandeshkhali, reassured that despite the absence of these men, there are people to step up. However, he lamented the worsening situation over the years.

"Earlier, elections used to be very peaceful. But some disturbances have been reported since 2010. I don't know how this election will turn out to be," Modak said.

TMC candidate and former MP Haji Nurul Islam dismissed the allegations, labeling them as 'cooked-up' by the BJP.

"Sandeshkhali incidents were the result of BJP's conspiracy. There were never any incidents of land grabbing and sexual molestation. Similarly, the notion that men working in other states won't be able to vote is another false allegation. Sandeshkhali will vote, and we will ensure it," Haji said.

Speaking to PTI, an official from the CEO's office, assured that comprehensive arrangements have been made to facilitate a smooth voting for the residents.

"We have taken all necessary measures to simplify and streamline the voting process. People need not fear anything and are encouraged to cast their votes freely. A significant number of forces are deployed to oversee the proceedings. However, if someone is unable to cast their vote due to being outside the state, it is indeed unfortunate," the election official remarked.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Will it be Narendra Modi's 'Viksit Bharat' or Rahul Gandhi's I.N.D.I.A.? As the world's largest democracy votes to choose its future, track live news, in-depth opinions, and analyses only on Deccan Herald.

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Published 31 May 2024, 16:36 IST

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