Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SOS to citizens: pick your choice

SOS to citizens: pick your choice
Many Initiatives Urge People To Go Out And Vote
Deepa Bhasti | TNN

Bangalore: The ruling party has the mandate of 10% of the population. Cynicism and lethargy are the causes. Activists have begun citing statistics to support such theories ahead of the BBMP elections next month.
Adult franchise in the city remains dismal —less than 50%. However, a number of initiatives seek to change this. Smartvote in Koramangala is one such c a m p a i g n .
Prithvi from
Smartvote said the problem is most people don’t realize that the corporator’s post is as important as that of an MLA. “We are highlighting this among those who are cynical about politics.”
Throwing up statistics, he said an estimated 50% of the population are registered voters. During elections, 40-45% of these turn up to vote, meaning 20-25% of the total population. Of this, a large percentage is influenced by religion, caste or traditional voting habits in a family.
“Discounting them, it is estimated that the ruling party is elected as per the mandate of just 10% of the total population,” Prithvi added.
The campaign is tailor-made for the audience being addressed. For instance, students are asked how they would feel if their rights are taken away, and responses are linked to the need to exercise franchise.
Smartvote is planning a door-todoor campaign too. While participative governance is the key, a Citizens’ Council has also been set up. “If there is a poll where people choose the favourite among themselves who then stands and is thus elected, there is both selecting and electing,” he explained.
Janaagraha has also begun its Jaagte Raho campaign ahead of the polls to increase voter registration and turnout. The first priority is to register volunteers as Area Voter Mitras to act as facilitators between candidates and the people. They will be given extensive training to work towards increasing registration.
An online movement to get people registered place is also picking up through various fora.
For details on Smartvote, log on to www.smartvote.in/koramangala or mail to koramangala@smartvote.in
For details on Area Voter Mitras and the Jaagte Raho campaign, send email to jaagteraho@janaagraha.org or call 41277105.
Voter Mitras sign up in Indiranagar
In the run-up to the BBMP elections, another set of Area Voter Mitras signed up under the Jaagte Raho campaign in Indiranagar on Monday. Jasmine Shaw, national coordinator of the campaign, told a group of senior citizens, youth and others that the local election is what determines day-to-day life.
Jaagte Raho had earlier managed to get 6 lakh people in 37 cities registered as voters at the end of an eight-month campaign. Now, it aims at 90% voter registration in the city. The volunteers help people make an informed choice and also get them to go out and vote.
Area Voter Mitras are trained by Janaagraha and expected to organize local ward-level events called Know Your Candidate. They are trained to go on door-to-door campaigns and given tool kits to facilitate candidate-resident interaction. Volunteers have urged RWAs to choose two eligible candidates from among themselves and send them the names. This is to ensure that candidates chosen by citizens contest in the elections. Volunteer registration drives will be held in different locations across the city till January 23. Log on to www.janaagraha.org for details. TNN


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