This Article is From May 10, 2019

Elections 2019 - Crammed In Train Toilets, Delhi's Migrant Workers Head Home. All To Vote

Thousands of Purvanchali voters head home to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to vote in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The migrant workers are travelling on the Bihar Sampark Kranti Express.


  • Millions of "Purvanchali" voters from western UP or eastern Bihar
  • "The government runs only a few trains," says a passenger
  • There is barely any place left to even stand on train headed to Bihar
New Delhi:

The incurably foul toilet of a general class compartment of a train is hardly a suitable space to spend more than a few minutes on a regular day for most people. But for the next 15 hours, with the temperature hovering around 42 degrees Celsius, daily wage earner Nandkumar and his friend Rahul are travelling home to Bihar, squashed between the decrepit plumbing and their determination to vote in the ongoing national elections.

"We will have to go standing. The government runs only a few trains. I want a new government to come to power. Because it is not just this. Back home in my village, it is even difficult to ride a cycle such are the condition of roads," Nandkumar told NDTV.

Nandkumar is among the millions of "Purvanchali" or East Indian voters who belong to Western Uttar Pradesh or Eastern Bihar and have migrated to large cities like Delhi for work. Slogging mostly as labourers, they are the people powering urban India's construction boom and other jobs considered too menial by locals.


All seats on the Bihar Sampark Kranti Express have more passengers than originally intended.

And Nandkumar is not alone on the Bihar Sampark Kranti Superfast Express, a train whose name would be a punchline had it not been the harbinger of extreme suffering for the financially disadvantaged like him.

One look at the rest of the unbelievably cramped compartment makes his toilet seem like a well-furnished private coupe. All the blue bench seats, even the ones overhead, are taken up by far more people than originally intended. There are passengers compressed in the space between the seats, there are passengers lining every square inch of the walkway and there are passengers dangling from the doors. The fortunate ones crouch on the floor, the not-so-fortunate ones will make the ride almost entirely on their two feet. A gust of wind that briefly blows away the perennial stench of sweat is the most relief they expect.


There is barely any place left to even stand on the train headed to Bihar.

Several of these people told NDTV their sole reason for making the arduous journey are the elections.

A young woman, who said she was travelling to her village in Chhapra, Bihar to vote for the first time, said her issue was education. "Teachers don't teach properly in government schools. I want a nice human being to the Prime Minister," she said.

These are the kind of voters who truly understand the value of every single vote that make up India's unfathomable 900 million-electorate. Some want the "progress in the country", while others want "factories to open in Bihar so that we don't have to travel to Haryana and Punjab".

Asked for his reason to vote, a daily wage worker from Noida, Mohammad Lalbabu turned quite emotional. "I am going to vote against discrimination. As Biharis we often face a lot of discrimination in Delhi NCR," he said, compressed between five companions on his berth.

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are voting in all the seven phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections that began April 11. Many of the seats in the Purvanchal region will vote in the remaining two phases on May 12 and May 19. The results are set to be announced on May 23.