Updated: May 9, 2019 6:59:56 pm
(Written by Rithika Krishna)
“As students, we are most capable of making an informed choice. If we choose not to vote, it is highly likely that the wrong party will get elected,” first-time voter Deepak is clear why he will be lining up in front of his polling booth in Jawahar Mohalla on May 12.
Sipping nimbu pani after classes at the Maharaja Agrasen College in East Delhi’s Vasundhara Enclave, the 19-year-old elaborates that the educated are less likely to be persuaded by false promises. “One must make a choice based on individual preferences and avoid all pressures from family and lineage when it comes to voting,” Deepak, who comes from a family of farmers, tells us outside the college. While he tries his best to ensure his family knows what each party is offering, the youngster is unhappy that parties don’t look for candidates who can represent the common man but are promoting celebrities instead.
There is a celebrity, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, in the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency where Deepak will vote. “Gambhir is excellent in the cricket field, but that does not mean he is cut for politics. If parties continue to give tickets to celebrities, it will stop the ordinary man who wishes to contest for elections to come forward. We need candidates who can make decisions that better the lot of the common man and allow their problems to be heard,” he elaborates.
His BA Hindi (Hons) coursemate Brijansh Pandey doesn’t agree. The Vasundhra Enclave resident thinks it is wrong to say Gautam Gambhir has no political background and, hence, is incompetent. “While at DDCA (Delhi and District Cricket Association), Gambhir has stood up for issues like the assault on Amit Bhandari, called for a ban on the cricketer behind the conspiracy and protested against the appointment of coaches whom he found were undeserving. As a keen enthusiast of cricket, I have kept a mental note of how Gambhir has been intolerant towards injustice. I think he deserves to be given a chance,” adds Pandey, who prefers to engage in political discussions with his close associates, even those with contradictory views. Pandey says younger voters are more aware thanks to social media and also study candidate profiles, their agenda and manifestos more closely before casting their votes.
“When I laid hands on my voter ID card is when I realised there was a tremendous responsibility that comes with voting for the first time. I was the one who took the initiative to get all the paperwork done from a government school nearby. I am definitely looking forward to casting my first vote,” beams Sanskar Moondra of Dilshad Garden. Nearby, Gaurav Bhati of Kondli was distressed at his application being rejected because he did not fill up the form correctly. Some others have not yet applied though they are almost unanimous that the online application process was convenient and less time-consuming.
Rahul Ravindran, a BA Journalism (Hons) student from Mayur Vihar Phase 3, said his family’s inclination towards the BJP will influence his vote. His friend Athul Babu is disappointed with the lack of alternatives of parties in Delhi. His Leftist leanings haven’t been able to stomach the “religious polarisation that comes with party politics”. Sadaf Khan of Dilshad Garden draws on this thread and says her only deciding factor is a party that promotes secularism. “There is lack of agenda-based politics. Problems like unemployment or security are used as vote banks. There is almost no emphasis on real development,” chips in Yashraj.
While the students of this college are not really fans of NOTA, there are those like BSc. Mathematical Science student Akansha who are unimpressed with any political party. “Even though India is a democratic country, all parties do not follow the principles of democracy,” says the Laxmi Nagar resident, who strongly condemns the “forced imposition of Hindutva ideology”.
While BA Political Science student Kiran wanted more safety in the area, which, she says, has seen a spate of snatchings, coursemate Farheen is impressed by how infrastructure and facilities in educational institutions have been upgraded in the last few years.
Then there are those who are clear that they need a strong leader. “This election is not just about East Delhi, we need strong leaders at the Centre. If we could give 49 years to the Congress, why are we hesitating to give some more time to the BJP. If we want change, we need to give it some time,” says Shekhar Kanojia of Joshi Colony.
Meanwhile, the newfound attention is something those like Mit Agarwal of Shahdara’s Vishwas Nagar can live with. “I have been getting calls from political parties who enquire about which party I would vote for. I feel a sense of power when they approach me with offers and promises.”
Rithika is an intern at indianexpress.com
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.