Even as political parties are making promises to woo young electors, those exercising their franchise for the first time have different agenda at their hand. For some, the November 4 assembly elections mean a serious business, while several youngsters have registered themselves on the last moment.
Enthusiasm amongst young voters seems to be quite high this time. August 8 was the cut-off date for voter registration. During the last three months, 18,111 voters have registered with the election commission. Of these, 8,032 are male and 10,079 female voters. Of the total registered voters, 9,000 are youngsters. There are many who registered on the last moment.
Meneka Thakur, a student of BA first-year in Rajkiya Kanya Mahavidyalya, will cast her vote for the first time. "Being a responsible voter, I will exercise my franchise in favour of the candidate who promises to fight against the prevailing social evils. Female foeticide is a major issue and every political party should include it in their poll manifesto on priority basis," said Meneka Thakur.
Not satisfied with the pace of development in Himachal Pradesh as compared to other states of the country, Tarsem Chauhan, an employee in public sector, says, "Voting is the fundamental right of every citizen and it's the duty of everyone to exercise their right responsibly. Being a first-time voter, I feel privileged and equally feel the responsibility to elect the candidate who has a vision for the development of the state."
Raising his concern about the decline in voters' turnout in the country, a student of Government College for Boys and Girls, Varun Chaudhary said, "It the duty of citizens to exercise their voting right responsibly. Rights bring responsibility. While exercising their right, voters should keep it in mind that it's our duty to elect a person with clean image."
While some voters give preference to local issues, a newly-registered voter, Neha Thakur, said, "I have studied the profile of every candidate and I will exercise my vote in favour of the candidate who has stood with people in their hard times and had worked for the development of the area. I want to be sure about the credentials of the candidate whom I elect as this is my first election."
The youth is the future of every country and some of them believe to take the country forward with a positive thinking. Rajat Sharma, a student, says, "I am excited as I will be voting for the first time. It is really important to cast your vote, so that you can express your opinion."
Considering voting right an important tool in the hands of citizens in a democratic country, Bhugaram, another student, said, "I believe that voting right is the greatest tool the average citizen has to exert political influence. I am of the firm belief that every vote matters and I would encourage everyone, who is eligible, to cast the vote. It's the also the duty of voters to exercise their franchise sensibly and elect those having clean image."
While political parties have been playing the card of women reservation in the elections to woo them, an engineering student, Neelam Chauhan, said, "Reservation for women is a good step and it will give them the opportunity to work in the areas affecting women. Ticket should be allotted to them on the basis of their work and not just because male members of their family have been deprived of ticket as the seat was reserved for women."
Some of the youths, however, feel that nothing can be changed in the country. They consider photo identity card is just a best option to be used as an "identity proof" when nothing else works. A young voter, Himkiran, said, "Most people feel that voting day is just a holiday to enjoy. Instead of going to cast their vote at polling booth, they give priority to their daily chores."