EC strives for greater youth participation in Gujarat

The Election Commission has taken steps to increase young voters` participation through awareness programmes.

Ahmedabad: With some of the first-time voters not completely sure about casting their vote and selection of candidate, the Election Commission has taken steps to increase young voters` participation through awareness programmes.

While some voters have expressed that they do not want to vote for the "corrupt" candidates, others feel it is their responsibility to exercise their franchisee.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is, therefore, conducting programmes like Systematic Voters` Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) to encourage the young voters to exercise their democratic right.

SVEEP, which was started in 2009, handles work related to all aspects of voters` awareness and education aimed towards improving electoral participation.

Under the programme, one of the special strategies developed by the ECI is wide-scale dissemination of information providing electoral assistance, so as to encourage participation of young and newly eligible voters.

The Commission has also taken steps to inculcate the cultural habit of voting and aid voters in overcoming psychological barrier, according to the ECI website.

In addition, it is reaching out to youth in colleges and universities and working to increase women participation by promoting election watch and democracy platforms by organising seminars, workshops and lectures on values of participatory democracy.

"Voting is important because it is a fundamental right. By not voting, we are not going to improve things or begin a revolution," said 25-year-old Jit Patel, a lawyer trainee from Ahmedabad, who will be casting his vote for the first time as he missed out on voting last time because of inconsistencies in electoral roll preparation.

"So, I`ll vote for a candidate who can deliver on what he promises and bring about required growth and development," he said.

While for Patel, voting is an exercise that he thinks will bring about the desired social changes, for Vishnu Menon (21), a mechanical engineering graduate from the state capital, it is not going to serve the purpose.

"I won`t be casting my vote because I will be voting back the same corrupt people. For me, voting is mere waste of money and time," Menon said.

However, 24-year-old Jamnagar resident Sanket Sinojia feels voting brings responsibility. "As a responsible citizen, it is my duty to cast vote. If we want a good government, it is vital for the literate public to cast votes."

Meanwhile, political parties are also taking steps to woo new voters.

BJP`s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) general secretary Hitesh Patel told a news agency, "We are organising programmes in rural areas to connect to new voters and spreading awareness about state government`s various schemes."

Gujarat Youth Congress unit president Mansingh Dodiya said the membership campaign started by the party in various universities of the state had received tremendous response.