'Come home & vote for us': Political parties in Bihar lure voters living in Nepal

Patna, April 28 (IANS) Political parties very well recognise the worth of each single vote; thus, they try to reach every voter to seek support in elections. In Bihar, this outreach programme by political parties is not just limited to the constituencies they are contesting but a way beyond.

Bihar has 10 Lok Sabha constituencies located near the India-Nepal border and a significant chunk of voters live in the neighbouring country. Thus in every election -- from Panchayat to Lok Sabha polls, political parties try to lure these voters to return home and vote for their candidates.

It is estimated that around three lakh people of Bihar origin live in Nepal and a majority of them still enjoy Indian citizenship, and are eligible to cast their vote here.

The state has 40 Lok Sabha constituencies and the 10 seats that share borders with Nepal are -- Valmiki Nagar, Paschim Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Supaul, Sitamarhi, Jhanjharpur, Madhubani, Araria and Kishanganj.

Of these 10 constituencies, polling in Kishanganj was held during the second phase on April 26 while voting in Supaul, Jhanjharpur and Araria is slated for May 7. Elections in Madhubani and Sitamarhi are scheduled in the fifth phase on May 20; and in Valmiki Nagar, Paschim Champaran, Purvi Champaran, and Sheohar in the sixth phase on May 25.

For several voters living abroad, elections are like a festival during which they get an opportunity to visit their hometown and meet relatives and friends.

"We have a business in Kathmandu, and elections give us an opportunity to visit our native place. We used to come here four to five days before the polling day to exercise our voting rights... this time too, we will do the same. During elections, the international border witnesses a fair-like atmosphere due to the gathering of people in large numbers," said Chandeshwar Shah, a Kathmandu-based trader who is a native of Inarwa block in West Champaran district.

His brother Mukteshwar Shah said: "Election is an excuse for us to meet our relatives and friends. It is a festival for us just like Holi, Diwali, and Chhath."

Some voters living in Nepal, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that local representatives of candidates contesting from their native constituency "lure them to come home and vote for their candidates. Such practices are frequent in Panchayat and urban local body elections as well as the Lok Sabha polls."

"Representatives of candidates generally contact the family members and their relatives to obtain phone numbers of voters living in Nepal. They contact them over the phone and ask them to return home to vote. Now why would anyone leave work and come here unless they have their own personal or financial interest?" said Sudhir Singh (name changed), who is associated with a political party and a native of Raxaul in East Champaran district.

Jitendra Singh Gangwar, the Bihar Police's ADG (Headquarters), said that the international border is temporarily sealed 72 hours before the polling as per the directions of the Election Commission and thus, those willing to cast their votes must come before the border is sealed.


traffic analytics