The district administration has been working for the past three months to reach out to young, first-time voters in Gautam Budh Nagar and get them to participate in the electoral process.
Elections in the district will be held on February 11 and over 5,000 young voters from Knowledge Park in Greater Noida will be voting for the first time. In addition, a private university will host a voting booth for the first time in the district.
“We appointed some students as ambassadors in more than 30 colleges of Greater Noida and have hosted various discussions and seminars in colleges in which students were encouraged to vote. We also organised three fortnight-long campaigns to enrol as many students of the district in the voter list as possible. The idea is that those who are 18 years and above by January 1, 2017, must be included in the voter list,” said NP Singh, district magistrate.
The district administration has also promised a safe atmosphere for students to cast their votes.
“Although students of Greater Noida’s professional colleges are hardly known for hooliganism, we will still ensure that strictest security measures are taken. Paramilitary forces will be deployed in sensitive areas and there will be no hurdle before students to exercise their voting rights,” said Singh.
In addition, a polling booth will also be set up in Sharda University in Knowledge Park.
“It is for the first time in the history of Gautam Budh Nagar that a university will have a polling booth on election day. We are trying our best to turn it into a model booth so that voters, irrespective of their age and gender, have no difficulty in voting. Senior citizens will get plastic chairs to sit while waiting in the queue and mothers with children will get crutches. Drinking water and other amenities will also be provided,” said Prashant Gupta, executive director, Sharda University.
A total of 500 voters from Sharda University and 5,000 students and teaching staff of the area’s 30 colleges will be exercising their vote at the university polling booth.
“I think it’s a great idea to set up a polling booth inside a university. It’s high time that the youth get involved in the democratic process. Otherwise, we only engage in armchair activism on social media. If they (young people) want to see a developed Uttar Pradesh, they should come out (and vote) in large numbers,” said Rishabh, a student of ITS College.
However, outstation students in Knowledge Park might face difficulties in returning to their hometowns in the state on the polling days scheduled in seven phases in UP. Some of them had decided not to go back to vote.
“I come from Allahabad and in my district, polls will be held on February 23. However, I won’t be travelling back for that day as semester exams are approaching,” said Surya (name changed), a student of a private engineering college in Greater Noida.
However, Singh said, “According to the election commission, any person who has taken an off from work or college to exercise their vote, will be given leave.”