Rajbiraj, September 10
Voters from impoverished communities in Saptari vow to cast their ballots in the September 18 elections for only those candidates who commit to not get themselves involved in bandhs and strikes in future.
Mahesh Rajak from Ward No 3 of Bishhariya Rural Municipality struggled a lot to manage two meals a day during the last agitation in Tarai region. Despite his physical disability related with polio, Rajak used to visit the district headquarters Rajbiraj to earn a daily wage.
During the six-month Madhes agitation, Rajak, the sole breadwinner of his family, mostly returned home empty-handed. “As I did not get to work, I borrowed some money from my neighbours to feed my starving family of five,” Rajak recalled the hardship, adding “I have still not been able to pay off the debt.” Rajak said, “I do not want to see an agitation like that, again. Our votes go to candidates who pledge not to resort to bandh in the days to come.”
Motilal Khang of Dumari Shivthan in Rajbiraj Municipality complained that frequent strikes would leave people like him unemployed. “Impoverished people like us have to bear the brunt of such shutdowns, the most “, Khang said.
Mahesh and Motilal represent many people who toil hard to make their ends meet, in the district. There are around 500 daily wage earners in Rajbiraj alone who do not even want to hear words such as ‘agitation’ and ‘strike’. They plant vegetables, till farmlands, clean shops and paint houses, among other works to eke out a living, daily.
Sahadev Yadav, a labourer, said it was an irony that strikes called for their rights actually had deprived them of their rights to livelihood. “These activities have only added to our misery and plight. We will only vote for those who pledge not to organise bandhs and strikes in the future,” he clarified.
A version of this article appears in print on September 11, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.