BHOPAL: To encourage more and more young voters to take part in the electoral process, the Government of India has decided to celebrate January 25 every year as ‘National Voters Day’. On the eve of this Day, The Free Press Journal spoke to city folks who have been casting their votes continuously since the age of 18 to know why voting is not 100 per cent in India, which is the world’s largest democratic nation.
Dr Mahavir Singh, 72, former director of All India Radio
It is not possible because in our country, the administrative machinery has a very limited reach. We don’t have proper transportation, hospitals, post offices and schools, especially in the villages. We don’t have proper communication with the voters. It may happen within 20 years. Unless it is made compulsory, voters will not cast their votes. The best way is to make voting compulsory for everyone unless they have some valid reason for not exercising their franchise. Also, for ensuring 100 per cent voting, our government will have to make the voters realise how important the vote is for us. I don’t think, NOTA is the solution for registering our protest against wrong candidate.
Sangeeta Gundecha, 42, Hindi poet and assistant professor in Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Bhopal
I think, either people have lost interest in voting or they don’t have idea of the power of votes in a democracy. It may also be that nowadays candidates are not very suitable. Also, voters get disappointed with the politicians. For 100 per cent voting, politicians will have to change their attitude and also make the citizens aware of the power of their vote.
Anita Singh, 32, assistant professor in Career College, Bhopal
We speak very proudly of our voting rights but in reality we never exercise it. I think there is a lack of understanding about why it is important for us and how it can affect us. The main problem is that we don’t know about politics and our parents also don’t encourage us to vote. They only want us to take interest in studies, sports and other extracurricular activities. In general, our belief is that one vote will not make any difference and another reason is laziness. Awareness of the need to cast vote is needed. Vote is the weapon through which things can get better. I think NOTA can be a good option but most of the people are unaware of this.
Akshar Pastaria, media student
It’s not possible because abhi bhi India ke log candidate par puri tarah vishwas nahi karte (still people of India don’t believe on candidates). They think that all candidates are the same and it doesn’t matter which party they are from. I think we should provide facilities like government employees to private employees too so that they can cast their vote from any place. I think NOTA is not a valid option. Why people will go to polling booths and waste their time, money and energy just to say that they do not like any of the candidates? It is not the right solution. If we really want to bring changes in society and Indian politics then the majority must vote for deserving candidate.
Aprajita Agrawal, social activist and director of MCRD
The first problem is that in our country, governments declare holidays on the day of voting. So people prefer to enjoy the holiday rather than cast their votes because they think that “jiski sarkar banna hai ban jayegi, hamare ek vote se kya fark padta hai”. So, why they will waste their time voting? Bogus voting can also be one of the reasons. Cent per cent voting is not possible unless the voting system in our country is proper and also voters have the right to recall the candidate before the end of his term.
Pankaj Kumar, 29, media in charge of Bhojpuri Bhashi Vikas Sangh
After 2014 Lok Sabha elections, I find that the number of voters, especially youth has increased tremendously. They are taking interest in it. Yes, before that the situation was very poor. The main problem in our country is that leaders focus on some limited groups for getting votes. For 100 per cent voting, I think, the election officials will have to be more active and work harder. They will have to make the voters realise that election is the festival of democracy and participation of every citizen is essential in it. I think the social media can also play a major role in making people aware of the need to vote. I don’t think NOTA is the proper solution.
Things are improving
“There are lots of factors behind this like illiteracy, poverty et al. And the most important factor is lack of awareness. But if we talk about present scenario then it is far better than earlier. And we are moving towards 100 per cent voting. With the passage of time, it will definitely improve. We organise various programmes from time to time to make the people aware of the need for voting and the percentage of voting is increasing every year. Around five crore voters are registered in MP.”
– Salina Singh, Chief Election Officer, MP
We can’t compel anyone
“It’s democracy. We can’t compel anybody to cast his or her vote. Every citizen can decide whether he or she wants or does not want to exercise his franchise. Election commission can only try to make them aware. If we talk about municipal elections, people take more interest in them. In fact, voting percentage is usually 10 per cent higher in municipal elections than in general and assembly elections. Ninety-two per cent people cast their votes in municipal elections and the number of female voters is more than male voters.”
-R Parshuram, chairman, state election commission