Democracy has a reason to cheer in Delhi.
Laggard voters are being pushed hard and motivated to come out of their houses on April 15 and exercise their franchise in the Municipal polls.
Move over the usual suspects, the NGOs or netas, Resident's Welfare Associations have taken the lead in motivating voters in their respective areas, telling them that they could make a difference with their vote. To make them realise the worth of push of a button on polling day, RWAs in the city have been organising mini marathons, painting banner competitions, running campaigns on the internet and even going from door to door to ensure a better turnout.In 2007 municipal elections, Delhi had recorded a turnout of 42.78%. RWAs are hoping that it would rise substantially this year.
A south Delhi RWA had launched a campaign called 'Delhi Come out and Vote' to raise awareness about the elections and how it affects the common man. It is pertinent to note here that the posh south Delhi had, in particular, witnessed a dismal response during the last MCD election held in 2007. Areas such as Vasant Kunj, Vasant Vihar and Andrews Ganj had recorded a voter turnout of less than 30%.
As part of the campaign poster-making competitions, on the theme of municipal elections, had been organised in various parts of the city such as Lodhi Garden, India Gate and Delhi University. The grand finale of this awareness campaign will be organised in the form of a mini marathon at National Stadium on Friday.
Another organisation, United Residents Joint Action (URJA) — an umbrella body of RWA's across the city — had also specially designed a poster urging Delhiites to come out and vote in large numbers. The Delhi State Election Commission had given its consent to the RWAs for putting such posters across the city.
The RWAs will also distribute pamphlets in various municipal wards, urging the people to exercise their franchise.
"We have been asked to provide voters all assistance in locating their names in the voter list and polling booths. Neighbourhood voter associations will be formed to ensure that people could feel motivated to go out and vote," said Ashutosh Dixit, member of People's Action, the parent body of URJA.
Focussing mainly on east Delhi, a number of RWAs from the area had also launched a campaign called 'Vote Delhi Vote' on April 1.
"During the last elections, a number of east Delhi areas witnessed low voter turnout. We don't want this to happen again. With this campaign, we will go to various schools as well as the weekly bazaars to appeal to the people to cast their vote," said BS Vohra, member of Joint Front of East Delhi RWAs.
DU students join the chorus
A slogan-shouting crowd in Delhi University is hardly rare. But then on Tuesday, it was. The reason: the noble cause for which the students were up in arms.
Hundreds of students from several colleges joined hands to raise awareness among the voters by way of taking out a procession and painting banners and drawing posters on the April 15 municipal elections.
"All the students from my class participated in the march and we really enjoyed it. I will be casting my vote this year, and I hope that others will also do," said Shourya Roy from Kirori Mal College.
Several RWAs along with Flavour of Art foundation, an NGO, conducted its final banner-painting session on Tuesday. The walls and the trees in the university were covered with vibrant posters painted by the students and the residents.
"A considerable number of voters in Delhi are young. It is extremely important for them to vote. Large number of students from the colleges joined our campaign.
The response we received from the students was really overwhelming. They were quite inquisitive as compared to other voters," said Rajiv Kakria of RWA, Greater Kailash I.
The 50 feet banner, which says 'I will vote' was signed by large number of students in the campus. The posters will be collected and will be displayed at an exhibition once the elections are over. The banners and posters have been uploaded on the website www.flavourofart.org from where the residents and candidates can download and distribute them in their area.
Astha Saxena, HT