Silence has turned out to be golden for Kumari Nidhi, the Election Commission’s new ‘poster girl’ across the Maoist-affected terrain of Bihar.
A painter by profession, Nidhi, 26, has been hearing and speech impaired since birth. She typifies the silent voter – primarily the underprivileged class that go about their democratic duty quietly.
This is the very reason that the EC roped her in alongside film and sports personalities such as Aamir Khan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Saina Nehwal and MC Mary Kom to be an icon for encouraging people to exercise their franchise.
Born to electrician Jugal Kishore Dwivedi and homemaker Sunita Dwivedi, Nidhi figures in all voter awareness posters dotting Gaya district, which goes to polls on Friday. Sharing space with stars she has admired makes her happy, and she has been using the social media to let people know while urging people to come out and cast votes.
Beyond apps, she communicates through sign language to drive the EC’s message home.
“We selected her as the mascot of our Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation campaign because most in Bihar are generally not vocal. They wait till the elections to speak their mind. That’s the reason our catch-line says ‘Vote banegi meri awaaz’ (my voice will be my vote),” Gaya district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agrawal told HT.
“This is a very good initiative by the district administration. It not only encourages such girls, but also tickles our senses to vote,” says Manoj Kumar, a tour operator near the Mahabodhi temple.
Early this year, Nidhi won the ‘Gaya Zilla Samman’ (district felicitation) for her paintings. Nidhi is a gold medallist in bachelor of fine arts, which she completed from the Jagat Guru Ram Bhadracharya Handicapped University in Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh. She went on to pursue her master degree, which she completed with flying colours.
Today, the vibrant colours have given her a new-found stardom.