Chandigarh, Oct 4: It may not be election time in Punjab yet but campaigning is on in a different way. As faraway Bihar readies to elect a new 243-member assembly, leading parties are wooing the Bihari migrant population in Punjab.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has high stakes in the Bihar polls, has initiated its "Chalo Bihar Abhiyan" in Punjab. It is urging people from Bihar living in Punjab, who are voters in their home state, to vote in Bihar.[Bihar Election 2015: Special Coverage]
Other parties like the Congress and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) too are trying to woo Bihari voters in Punjab.
Punjab, as per official estimates, is home to some two million migrants from Bihar. They are engaged in various jobs and occupations in Punjab.
Of this, over 1.3 million are living in and around the industrial hub of Ludhiana.
Needless to say, the focus of the BJP and other parties is on Ludhiana. No leader from the BJP's Punjab unit has been told to campaign in Bihar so that they can focus on the migrant population in Punjab.
"The BJP has changed the overall image of the country in its over one year rule in India. The entire world now views our country as the next superpower. It is time for the people of Bihar to put in power those (BJP) who have proved themselves," BJP Punjab unit president Kamal Sharma said.
The BJP last week organised a meeting of its "Pravasi cell" in Ludhiana. It was also attended by Rajya Sabha MP and in-charge of the party's Punjab unit, Prabhat Jha.
At the meeting, Jha said: "The Bihar polls are an occasion where the people of Bihar have a chance to change the fortunes of the under-developed state."
"The failure of the political leadership (of Bihar) is the reason other states are scripting new chapters in development while Bihar is listed among the worst states (in development). The BJP is ready to change the scenario but for that each and every individual from Bihar working in Punjab votes for our party," Jha said.
Sharma added: "You have to ensure that all your relatives and friends in Punjab go to Bihar to vote for the BJP."
Some families who migrated from Bihar a long time ago have adopted Punjab as their new home though they maintain ties with their native state.
Migrants from Bihar (including areas now part of Jharkhand) have been coming to Punjab since the late 1960s when the Green Revolution brought new prosperity to the northern state.
"In fact, the first lot of labour from Bihar came to my farm near Banur (25 km from Chandigarh) in 1968. They were all hard workers and many settled in Punjab," leading horticulturist Bhagwant Singh, who is based in Hoshiarpur, 140 km from here, told IANS.
With elections being held in Bihar in five phases (October 12, 16, 28 and November 1 and 5), the Bihari migrants are being urged to travel to Bihar.
The BJP is determined to win in Bihar, the first state to see election after its rout in Delhi in February. Pitted against the BJP is the "Grand Alliance" of the JD-U, the RJD and the Congress.