If we don’t go to Gujarat, what else would we do? Our rocky soil does not produce much fruit. We manage to grow enough crops for our own needs, Singh said when asked why people from the district are migrating to the neighboring state in large numbers.
Singh, who lives in a `faliya (village), about 50 km from the district headquarters, is currently preparing his small plot for Rabi sowing. Farmers here mainly grow cotton, millet and corn.
Though there is less than a week left for the state Assembly elections (November 17), there is no electoral atmosphere in Jhabua constituency, which has 3.13 lakh registered voters and is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Singh, who cannot read or write, speaks Bheeli, a dialect of Hindi.
I myself went to Gujarat many years ago to work as a cotton picker. Later, I returned to my farm, but one or two people from each house in our Faliya work in Gujarat, he said.
As a daily wage laborer in nearby areas, he earns around Rs 250 per day. In Gujarat we earn more, but there you have to work day and night, he added.
The Congress has fielded state Youth Congress president Vikrant Bhuria, a trained doctor and son of incumbent MLA Kantilal Bhuria. His main opponent in the elections is Bhanu Bhuria’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Kantilal Bhuria, a prominent tribal leader, was a minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.
Vikrant alleged that the BJP government did nothing to increase employment opportunities in the tribal-dominated region during its 18-year rule in Madhya Pradesh.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme launched by the UPA government has stopped large-scale migration from the area, but tribal laborers are now finding it difficult to get wages under MGNREGA schemes and are being forced to migrate, he claimed.
BJP candidate Bhanu Bhuria said that Kantilal Bhuria has been representing Jhabua area in the assembly or Lok Sabha for the last 45 years. However, he alleged that he had not paid attention to taking measures to stop migration.
He added that if Kantilal Bhuria had had dams built on rivers in Jhabua when the Congress was in power, tribal farmers would have received water for irrigation, which could have stopped the migration.
In the 2018 assembly elections, BJP MP Guman Singh Damor defeated Vikrant Bhuria by 10,437 votes. Damor, a retired state government official, resigned from the assembly in 2019 after winning the Jhabua-Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency.
In the by-election that followed, Kantilal Bhuria wrested the Jhabua assembly seat from the BJP, defeating Bhanu Bhuria by 27,804 votes. PTI HWP MAS KRK GK
This report is auto-generated from PTI news website. ThePrint is not responsible for its content.
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