The post-Babri mosque demolition generation of Uttar Pradesh exercised its vote for the first time Wednesday, standing out through sheer numbers without the baggage of the past.
The large turnout of such first-time voters - many of them not burdened by usual caste considerations - has
added an element of suspense to the way the electorate has decided in the first phase of polling for 55 seats.
"I voted for change," said Sunita Singh, 18, a second year undergraduate student in Barabanki.
She added: "I am interested in politics but sick of the kind that has been happening on caste and religious lines. You watch out. In a few years, politicians will stop this kind of poll mathematics."
Many first-timers egged on others to vote and hoped this would have the desired effect. Ramesh Vishwakarma, 18, of Munderwa village in Basti district said, "Everyone talks of corruption and unemployment, but when it comes to shunt out the corrupt and non-performing leaders, people prefer to stay indoors on polling day. I came to vote for change."
Irshad Ali, 19, of Odarwa village returned home from Kerala to vote. "I do consider elections the biggest festival of our democracy."
The election commission's drive to educate students also came in for praise. Sandeep Jaisal of DDU Gorakhpur University said, "A majority of the students who got electoral photo identity cards turned up to vote."
Many youngsters were driven by issues more pressing than caste. Sahil, a student of KD College, Basti, said, "I wish to elect a leader who gives priority to education, health and industrialisation in the area."
Another student Sanjay Modanwal, 18, said, "If youngsters exercise their franchise in large numbers, politicians will be forced to think new and progressive."
Social activist Anna Hazare's anti-corruption crusade also found mention among some first-timers in Faizabad district.
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