With major political parties trying to woo the middle and business class for votes, they have forgotten the seasonal migrants who leave their families and villages in search of work. This has once again come to light after the government’s push for proxy voting rights for the million and Indian diaspora all over the world. Busy making money to maintain their luxurious lifestyles aboard, the government is well aware that the diaspora doesn’t have time to ‘vote’. In fact, the government should put in major efforts to make voting easy for the seasonal migrants as per the Constitution every citizen has the right to vote.
More than 100 million people move each year from rural areas in search of a better livelihood. Research shows that these migrant workers are often away from home during elections. And the current voting regulation does not allow them to send their votes through postal ballots. The authorities should be mindful that migrants find it difficult to visit their homes to cast their votes. They lack voting rights in the cities and states they work. And as such, they miss out on being part of the only institutional mechanism in the country. The government fails to guarantee them their basic entitlement. Moreover, an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute highlights that a state of continuous drift prevents migrant workers from exercising their political rights because the migrants are not entitled to vote outside of their place of origin.
The political inclusion of migrant workers should be the major concern for the government and the political parties respectively. According to a study conducted by the Aajeevika Bureau in 2012, there have also been instances of opportunistic political inclusion where migrants are seen as a ready-to-tap vote bank. Such inclusion does not give them any political voice or reach to the policy.
With the impending Lok Sabha elections, nothing has changed. Migrant workers have once again been pushed aside and non-residential Indians (NRIs) are once again, being used as vote banks.