National Voters Day celebrated in Coimbatore, Udhagamandalam

Factors such as ensuring a corruption-free environment, effective governance and policies that will result in overall development of the country seem to be influencing the voting interest of many college students who received their Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) here on Saturday, on National Voters Day.

The supplementary rolls released in January for the Coimbatore district had a total of 1, 56, 771 new voters. District Collector Archana Patnaik and Corporation Commissioner G. Latha presented the voter identity cards to many newly registered voters, including three transgenders, at a function at Corporation School in Sidhapudur.

For P. Niveda, a second year B.Com. student, the persons contesting the election are of least importance. Her vote, she says, will be influenced by the policies of the candidate/party.

While young candidates are ideal, she, however, says age and experience, or lack of it, will not be the deciding factor as they are not the sole guarantors of good governance.

Policies over personalities

R. Keerthana, a second year Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) student, has just now begun finding out about elections to different bodies such as the panchayats, Corporation, Assembly and Parliament.

However, she says she plans to keenly follow the poll pledges of all candidates and also cast her vote in all elections to the candidates who vow to fight corruption and ensure safety for women. Gayathri G. Krishnaraj, a second year engineering student, says her vote will go to youngsters who will not be burdened by the politics of the past.

She attributed her enrolment for the voter ID to the interest generated by the Election Commission of India through their awareness campaign.

Many students also revealed an awareness of the ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) option. S. Shruthi, a second year B.Sc. (biotechnology) student says she will use the NOTA option to show to the political parties the opposition to their candidates, if she finds all of them unacceptable. “It is definitely the better choice of protest than not casting the vote at all.”

For S. Vignesh, a second year B.Sc. (Information Technology) student, policies that deal with poverty alleviation and education of children are also important factors.

It was not youngsters all the way at the function. For, V. Palanisamy, a 52-year-old businessman who was among others to get his card, said that corruption was his only over riding concern. “If corruption is eliminated, good governance will automatically follow and I will vote for a party that I think will tackle this vital issue.”

The EPIC was also distributed at polling booths across the district. A pledge was also administered during the occasion. Prizes were also given to the winners of various competitions held at colleges to mark the National Voters Day. A rally was also taken out by college students holding placards carrying messages on the importance of voting. Coimbatore district had 12, 70,084 male voters, 12, 65,268 women voters and 26 transgenders, totalling to 25, 35,378 voters.

Udhagamandalam Special Correspondent adds:

The right to vote should be exercised with utmost caution. This was emphasised at a programme organised by the district administration here on Saturday to mark the observance of National Voters Day.

The Nilgiris Collector and District Election Officer P. Sankar, who presided, said that progress of the nation depends on the manner in which the people exercise their franchise and added that all over 18 years should compulsorily register themselves and cast their vote. Later speaking to The Hindu new voters S. Nandhini and T. Sandhya of the Emerald Heights College for Women said that they were eagerly looking forward to their participation in the electoral process for the first time.

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