The Times Of India
Manish Umbrajkar


PUNE: Unlike the Lok Sabha elections when a concerted public awareness campaign was launched urging people to cast their vote, the zeal is missing this time.

According to social groups and activists, low voter turnout during the Lok Sabha elections is one of the reasons why such a campaign is missing this time.

"Show them the finger'' was one such slogan which was making waves during the LS elections as people were told about the importance of voting, and that as responsible citizens it was their duty to elect the leader and the government of their choice. Almost every media be it newspapers, television, radio, email, SMSs and pamphlets were used by social groups to encourage people to vote. However, the enthusiasm is missing this time.

Ajit Ranade of Maharashtra Election Watch admits that this time around the election atmosphere has been subdued. "The period between two elections is very less. Unlike the Lok Sabha elections, which was held in phases not just in the country but in Maharashtra, this time the polls are being held on a single day," he said. Ranade says his organisation has been creating awareness through press conferences held in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur where the details of the candidates were presented. On whether the voters' turnout would dip further as compared to Lok Sabha elections, Ranade said that in fact the turnout would be higher because the state elections are of more interest to voters than the parliamentary elections.

Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch said that several groups working for creating voter awareness during the general elections are feeling dejected because despite such a large campaign the average voter turnout was just over 40 per centlowest in the history of the city so far. "It will be a shame if the voter turnout dips further," says Velankar, adding that during the general elections, there were several youth and students groups who actively worked for creating awareness.This time, however, the youth are probably more busy in their academic activities. Velankar says that the kind of campaigning and the candidates put up by various political parties has added to overall frustration of the voters. "They do not really have a choice because everyone in the fray is almost the same. In such a situation people really have a question as to whom should they vote for and why,'' he said.


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