In what was a first-of-kind experience for them, differently-abled students from several Ghaziabad schools and those in the care of NGOs were on Saturday roped in for a massive rally held to encourage Ghaziabad voters to come out in numbers and get their fingers inked on February 11.
The drive to get voters out in numbers on election day assumes significance as several Ghaziabad segments, which are home to a sizeable concentration of urban voters, fared dismally with regard to turnout during the UP assembly polls in 2012. While Ghaziabad City recorded a turnout of 54.08%, the Sahibabad segment fared even worse at 49.31%. These are figures quoted by none other than the state election commission.
“In some urban areas, there are people who don’t come out and vote. We’ve came out here to encourage such voters to exercise their democratic right. We held a rally urging them to vote,” Ilima, a differently-abled student from Sahibabad who took part in the rally, said.
More than 300 students participated in the rally, which also featured district officials. The event was one in a series that had been planned by the district administration to raise voter awareness before UP goes to polls.
“We want more people to come out and vote. So we held up placards and banners during the rally urging them to make their votes count,” Rohit Rawat, another participant, said.
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The students looked keen and determined to attract eyeballs and make themselves heard as they covered a stretch, spanning more than 5 km, from Chaudhary Morh intersection on GT Road. They later converged on Hapur Road after covering various other parts of the city.
“The children had put in a lot of hard work over the last couple of weeks and took help of their teachers in preparing their banners and placards. They were excited to be able to take part in the event and woke up early to begin preparations. The rally was held with support from the district administration,” said Anurag Kishor, principal of Asha Vidyalaya which was among the schools represented at the rally.
The total number of voters in the last UP polls had been pegged at 12,74,92,836, of which only 7,57,25,793 had their fingers inked. The overall polling percentage stood at 59.40%. In Ghaziabad, the polling percentage stood at 62.34%, while Murad Nagar, Loni and Modi Nagar segments, which are home to a sizeable count of rural voters, recorded similar numbers.
However, the administration, this time, has set a polling target of 75% and roped in students from across the district to encourage people to vote. As part of the effort, a drawing competition and another event that is likely to feature nearly 10,000-5,000 students, are lined up in Ghaziabad.