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Pune resident with a mission and message: Exercise your right, go out and vote

The low voter turnout in the first three phase of polling made him return, for the second time, to Thane and Mumbai

mumbai Updated: Apr 28, 2019 01:06 IST
Ankita Gopakumar
Ankita Gopakumar
Hindustan Times
Bapurao Gund in Thane on Saturday. (Praful Gangurde/ HT)

Clad in a shirt, atop a motorbike with a flag in his hand, Bapurao Gund, 52, has been travelling across Maharashtra creating voting awareness for the past three months.

The low voter turnout in the first three phase of polling made him return, for the second time, to Thane and Mumbai.

He had visited Thane on April 9 before heading towards Mumbai. Thane had recorded only 50% polling in 2014 Lok Sabha election.

“The main reason for this drive is to reach out to those people who do not vote. Ideally, the government should have a list of people who turn 18 every year, just like a record of birth and death that they maintain,” said Gund, who is upset that there are many who do not get their voter ID on time.

Gund, who hails from Haveli district in Pune, starts his day by talking to morning walkers and joggers about the importance of voting.

“It is essential that a proper study of the candidates is done by the citizens before deciding whom to vote. First-time voters need guidance,” said Gund.

“In the initial phase of polling, places such as Gadchiroli witnessed higher voter turnout. These are tribal areas with mostly illiterate people; however, other places that have educated voters have a lower turnout. This was disturbing, hence, I came again to Thane and Mumbai,” he said.

Expecting a better voter turnout this time, Gund has been working towards it for 30 years. “Every election, I take part in awareness drives,” said Gund, who was heading towards Airoli on Saturday.

Gund’s family are used to his state-wide campaigns.

“My mother, wife and children are in Pune and this has been my regular routine so they are used to it. I even help manage traffic if I see any chaos when I am on the road. I have a whistle that attracts people towards me when I have to share a social message,” said Gund, who also manages traffic on voting days.

A former businessman, Gund continues to take contractual work, but is now completely involved in social work.

Gund hold a masters degree in social work and has been working for environment conservation.

“For me social work is like an addiction. I continuously work for the society. I try to eat minimal and cheaper food and not spend much on stay as I can use that money to reach out to more people,” said Gund.

Gund has also written four books in Marathi on various social issues. He gets busy before every elections, spreading the voting message.

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 01:06 IST