One of the major reasons for low voting percentage in Bhopal was youngsters largely staying away from voting unlike the Lok Sabha and the assembly elections.
This was apparent after HT visited polling booths in various parts of the city to see the voting pattern.
There was a thin presence of youngsters at the polling booths since morning, especially in New Bhopal, which improved slightly in the afternoon. Voters who came out for voting in significant numbers were primarily middle aged and elderly persons.
The young voters who came for voting primarily belonged to the lower strata and the lower middle class. The youngsters from the city's elite section were rarely spotted at the booths.
To know what kept them away from polling, HT spoke to youth in markets, play grounds and malls, who had not voted but utilised the holiday announced on the polling day for outing with friends.
The reasons they gave ranged from disinterest, election fatigue, disillusionment, some of them not having voter cards, being busy in some other job and so on.
Many youngsters suggested that civic polls were not that important for them. Nineteen-year-old Ajay Sen from Vallabh Bhawan area didn't know in which ward his area falls.
He seemed least interested in the ongoing civic polls. “I don't know who is contesting in our area. What is the use of all this, when they are all the same for us. Boys like me want jobs. And that is not happening, irrespective of who wins the elections,” said Ajay Sen, who was having fun with his friends in the Shivaji Nagar market.
Like Sen, there were many youngsters who stayed away from voting. Eighteen-year-old Ravi Kushwaha, from Khajuri Kala, who works at a parking lot of one of the city malls, said he didn't get time to obtain his voter card. “And to be honest, even if I had a voter card, I wouldn't have gone perhaps. Earning money for my family is more important for me,” he said.
There were many youngsters, who said their names were not on the voters’ list, so they couldn't vote.
“I’m from ward 46. Despite completing the procedures, my name didn't appear on the voters' list. So, I was unable to cast my vote,” said Rohit Chopra from new Bhopal.
There were also some youngsters who said if significant number of young candidates had been in the fray, it would have attracted the young voters. “We are tired of the elderly leaders. We want young dynamic corporators. In our ward 45, we are neither voting for the BJP nor for the Congress. We are supporting an independent candidate Monu Gohal, who worked hard in our area,” said 22-year-old Saddam Khan from Shivaji Nagar.