ByÂ Nanditha Sankar:
As the general elections approach, political parties will always go back to their tried and tested formulae – gargantuan promises (with little expectations of delivery), appealing to their respective strong-holds and what not. This Lok Sabha election season, however, some things are set to change. As the campaigning season begins and the numbers begin to pour in, the state-wise distribution of first-time voters begins to emerge. In a country, that is set to become the youngest in terms of average age by 2050, it should not come as a surprise that a total of 9.5 crore fresh electors have emerged.
A recent demographic survey revealed an overwhelming number of newly registered voters, credit to which must be given to the Election Commission, for the online reforms and rampant publicity measures taken to ease the process of electoral roll induction and registration. Several celebrities from prominent fields were featured in commercials encouraging the youth to register for voting. It must be the cumulative impact of all this that has resulted in an overwhelming increase in the fresh voters from each state as can be seen in the picture survey below:
Uttar Pradesh, in the deepest shade of red, rightfully asserts its high population with the largest number of new voters pitched at a whopping 38 lakh.West Bengal, follows closely behind with 20 lakh with Rajasthan claiming a near third. Other major performers included:
*Jharkhand- 18 lakh
*Madhya Pradesh – 16 lakh
*Andhra Pradesh – 15 lakh
The numbers may vary relative to the population of the state. But in each state, the young guns will wield a power like no other. Very often, adults tend to vote based on their dynastic loyalties. But when it comes to the youth, with increasing access to social media and widespread choices, the chances of an informed decision are all the more likely. The Internet and Mobile Association of India, the IMAI, reported that said 160 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies were likely to be highly influenced by social media. Another 67 would see medium, while 60 would record low impact. There also exists the probability that the voters of this age group are not familiar with caste or sect based politics and are able to identify a candidate purely by his/her calibre.
The rise of the young Indian voter has become palpable. Merely looking at these numbers does not translate to higher votes. The number of people who turn to the booth on the D-day will matter. Very often, young adults shy away from voting citing various reasons and limit their voices and views to the online platform. And since we haven’t been able to completely wipe out electoral malpractices, it could happen that these absentees unknowingly sacrifice their votes to the whims and fancies of corrupt elements. Instead of stopping at voter enrolment, we need large-scale awareness drives. The first-time voter should be informed that his/her presence in the local electoral list should be confirmed for otherwise he/she stands ineligible to vote. It is only when continuous follow-up is established, in bringing these young guns to the polling booth on the D-Day that we can count these as actual numbers.