Shruti Mishra, a 19-year-old Delhi University student, has witnessed the Aam Aadmi Party’s education pitch playing out in front of her as she is a product of a Delhi government school. With this experience in hand, the first-time voter cast her vote in Munirka Saturday. “The classes now have CCTVs, broken furniture is fixed immediately and schools are cleaner than before. These are important issues that matter,” she said.
On Saturday, at least 1.11 lakh voters were added to the electoral rolls, including incumbent Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s son Pulkit, Congress leader Ajay Maken’s son Aujaswi, and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s son Raihan.
After casting his vote at a Civil Lines polling booth, Kejriwal tweeted a photo of his wife, son and parents with a caption: “Voted along with my family, including my first-time voter son. Urge all young voters to come out to vote. Your participation strengthens democracy.”
While mobbed by cameramen, Raihan, who was flanked by his parents, said, “I have voted for development,” while Maken’s son Aujaswi said, “Ever since I got the voter’s slip, I have been feeling excited. I have been telling everyone to come out and cast their vote, irrespective of which party they are going to vote for. It is our right and all must exercise it.”
For Gen-Z, education reforms by AAP remained the number one issue this election. For Sana (20), who studies at DU’s Zakir Hussain College, and Farheen (20), who has a clerical job at a private school, the changes at their alma maters in North East Delhi’s Seemapuri are defining factors. “When we visit our schools now, we feel really good seeing the changes. The system is working, there is more discipline, teachers are more regular. We will vote on the basis of this,” said Sana.
The government’s CCTV push in colonies, as a measure to ensure “security and safety”, too has found takers among first-time voters. Archie Kanojia, a Civil Lines’ resident, said, “I want a government that can provide a safe environment for women, better policing and more CCTVs.”
Another first-time voter at a polling booth in East Delhi’s Vishwas Nagar said, “There are no CCTVs in our colony despite the government introducing them across the city. That’s because our incumbent MLA is from the BJP. There are a lot of snatching cases here and people have to invest their own money in safety. It’s not fair.”
The job market too made it to conversations among first-time voters. Suhail (21), who fixes cable wires for a living in North East Delhi’s Brahmpuri, said, “I am a labourer and will vote for those who provide relief to the poor. Gareebo ko bas thoda sukoon chahiye.”
Deepak (21), another first-time voter from Kasturba Nagar, said, “Despite job promises, not much has been done, but the development work being carried out at the local level has given us hope.”
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