Hunger, it seems, has cut deeper with people than satire. Anna Hazare, who led the agitation for the janlokpal bill, has been rate far ahead of local comedian and social satirist Jaspal Bhatti, by the people of the state for his potential to motivate voters to exercise their right to franchise.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) had recently commissioned a survey to gauge the awareness, attitudes, behaviour and practices of voters, which found Bhatti — who was earlier officially chosen as the ECI’s icon for poll-related advertisements — had slipped to the second last position on a list of nine. Anna came out at the top.
The survey, conducted by the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Chandigarh, found that any sportsperson, actor or singer was the second most desirable with voters for promoting the process of elections, while the image of “common man” was their third choice to feature in ECI ads. Punjabi singer Gurdas Maan came in at Number 4.
According to sources, the office of the Punjab chief electoral officer is now contemplating engaging common people in its advertisement campaign to strike a rapport with the voters, especially the youth, a majority of who are yet to be enrolled as voters despite attaining the age of 18.
"Your vote is invaluable, use it wisely" and "Proud to be a voter, ready to vote" were found to be the most appealing messages for ECI ads by the survey.
The survey also found that from 2008 to 2011, the overall electoral roll had increased only marginally by 1.53%. Specifically, the enrolment of men had increased 2.01% while for women it dropped by 1.07%.
A dominant reason cited by people (62.5%) for not getting registered as voter was found to be ignorance about the place where to get registered, while the youngest age group (12.5%) said they were not sure if they were eligible.
Among those who had never voted in the last three elections, 93.75% belonged to the age group of 18 to 25 years.
Among rural voters above the age of 40, men and people belonging to upper castes were more inclined to casting their vote in the forthcoming assembly elections.
The survey found that among the factors that influenced rural people in deciding which way they voted, the strongest was the opinion of patriarchs and community leaders. Urban voters, on the other hand, relied more on personal choice.
The influence of religious and spiritual leaders, too, was found to be more among rural voters, and it was more in the Malwa region.