Puducherry Assembly elections | Locals, poets pitch in to raise voter awareness

Members of the Avvai Nagar Welfare Association in Puducherry on Sunday, created awareness among the locals on the need to vote without being influenced by money or gift.   | Photo Credit: S.S. KUMAR

Poets, thinkers and residents are lending their voices to complement the administration’s campaign to spur electoral participation and promote ethical voting practices.

At one of the city’s largest residential agglomerations falling in the Thattanchavady Assembly constituency, a residents’ welfare association has been propagating the message of ethical voting since 1985. Volunteers have been going door-to-door to raise awareness against taking money for votes and distributing pamphlets with the message.

“We have been carrying out this campaign since the association was founded in 1985,” said P.B. Seshadri, long-time president of the Avvai Nagar Residents Welfare Association, an outfit overseeing the well-being of 650 houses and over 2,000 voters.

The association also reaches out to the party office of candidates with the message of keeping money off campaigning.

“The simple rationale of our message is that taking money for votes reduces a great democratic exercise to a transactional engagement. By accepting cash, the voter also squanders his or her right to demand solutions to a civic issue after the elections,” Mr. Seshadri said.

The Puducherry Thinkers Forum has also been organising awareness campaign across formats to espouse free and fair elections.

The outreach ranged from street corner poetry symposia, involving around 50 poets, to a cultural event by folk artists and a group discussion, said forum leaders V. Govindasamy and Nedunchezhian.

Meanwhile, the district administration’s voter outreach programmes under the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) have ranged from dissemination of specially designed pamphlets aimed at 100% electoral participation, promoting messages on the Ponlait milk sachets, which reached an estimated 1.50 lakh houses every morning, to puppet theatre shows for rural voters and a robust social media campaign.

“We had 20 teams carrying out a variety of SVEEP outreach programmes with very encouraging success,” said S. Sezhiyan Babu, SVEEP nodal officer.

Apart from the propagation of 50,000 handbills and 5,000 posters, some of the successful interventions include reaching out to an estimated 60,000 voters through their children studying in about 300 schools, the e-EPIC helpdesk drive across 36 locations, which saw an uptick in downloads, and campaigns targeted at the 26,000 first-time voters for the April 6 election, Mr. Babu said.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 8:20:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/puducherry-assembly/puducherry-assembly-elections-locals-poets-pitch-in-to-raise-voter-awareness/article34227453.ece

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