First-timers may constitute nearly 10 per cent of the electorate. Several youngsters from Chennai will also travel to their hometowns across the State to exercise their franchise

The excitement is building. With just 11 days to go for the polls, the city is breathing, speaking and advertising elections.

Everywhere one looks, there is information on voting — from advertisements on television to banners and digital hoardings. Everything is geared towards telling voters how to go about it, where to go and what documents to carry with you when you do.

On April 24, when the city goes to polls, a sizeable young population will be part of the electorate that will decide on the success of the candidates. First-time voters are likely to constitute nearly 10 per cent of the electorate.

Karthik Ramakrishnan, a final-year engineering student and first-time voter, says, “I believe in the electoral system and think each vote counts. I think it is time youngsters roll up their sleeves and get involved in electing the next government.” He is among the city’s 4.04 lakh young voters, between 18 and 24 years, who have checked their names on the electoral rolls recently.

Twenty-year-old engineering student Uma Maheshwaran of SRM University is in search of a political party that will promote ‘growth’.

Representatives of those in the Lok Sabha have failed to inspire him as he barely remembers names of the candidates or the current MPs in his hometown, Chennai. But news coverage of the Lok Sabha elections has begun to invoke the spirit of electoral participation, he says.

“I will complete graduation next year. I am concerned about job opportunities. Whichever party promotes growth is my priority,” says Maheswaran.

There are others, like C. Ramesh, a first-year college student and resident of Madhavaram, who wish to go by their family’s decision.

Perambur resident K. Keerthana says she plans to vote for a secular candidate who will work for the empowerment of women and youth. “I am also following the political campaign on television and social media to decide who to vote for,” she says.

Several youngsters from Chennai are also gearing up to travel to their hometowns across the State to exercise their franchise.

A final-year MBBS student in Chennai, S. Prasanth is eagerly looking forward to April 24, when he will vote for the first time, back home in Namakkal district. “My choice will definitely be a person who is against privatisation, particularly of education. The candidate and his/her party should be corruption free,” he says.

(With inputs from Aloysius Xavier Lopez, K. Lakshmi, Serena Josephine M., Zubeda Hamid and Asha Sridhar)     

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