(Written by Shivangana Chaturvedi & Megha Roy)
With barely a week to go before Pune votes in the Lok Sabha elections, many first-time voters in the city said they strongly oppose attempts to create fissures within the society on the basis of caste and religion. These were merely attempts at distractions, they said.
Talking to Pune Newsline, a group of young voters said they were eager to cast their votes for the first time and have even checked their names on the Election Commission’s list, though some of them said they were still waiting to receive their voter identity cards.
The youngsters were also critical of attempts to use the air strikes in Balakot, carried out by the Indian Air Force, to score political points. Annant Varma, an undergraduate student from MIT World Peace University, said the hate speeches on the campaign trail were intolerable. “Inflammatory speeches and the divides created on religious and caste-lines by politicians have actually diminished my interest in politics,” said Varma.
The youth also pointed out that many of the ideas and promises offered in the manifestoes of political parties did not cater to them.
“There is no mention of any effort to uplift the LGBTQ community. Most of the ideas don’t address the needs of the youngsters,” said Anagha Sankpal, a final-year student of psychology.
Some of the young voters were wary of expressing their political views openly on social media, due to fear of ‘being tracked’. They preferred to remain mute spectators on social media and similar platforms.
“Why should political parties spend money in setting up IT and social media cells when they can put to it to better use, say, in addressing farmer’s issues,” said Ruturaj Magar, adding that “politics has stooped to new lows” this time. The first-time voters also said they sometimes found it difficult to decide whether to cast their vote for the candidate or the political party he/she represented, as many of them noted the sudden surge in political messages that overshadowed the candidate’s actual performance.
“I am going to review the manifesto of all political parties and evaluate the candidates’ performances, before deciding who to vote for,” said Nishant Prakash, an engineering student.