With young voters likely to play a key role in the Lok Sabha polls, political parties in Uttar Pradesh have set their sights on them and are trying to reach out with various programmes and campaigns. A spokesperson for the ruling BJP said the party believes young voters not only actively participate in the electoral process, but also act as a catalyst for others to cast their votes.
With ‘Mera Pehla Vote Modi Ko (my first vote for Modi)’ campaign, the BJP hopes the young electors will help it replicate its 2014 performance. As per Election Commission date, there are 14.40 crore voters in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The count of first time voters stands at approximately 45 lakh, of which 16.75 lakhs are in the age of 18-19 years.
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“The BJP was rather early in reaching out to the young voters. The party had run a Young Voters’ Campaign from October 7-11. The campaign was run by BJP’s youth wing BJYM (Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha),” UP BJP media coordinator Rakesh Tripathi told PTI. More than 6.21 lakh youngsters filled up form-6, which pertains to inclusion of name of an individual in the electoral roll, in the campaign.
“The excitement towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi is clearly evident among the youngsters. They want to associate themselves with the spirit of nationalism,” Tripathi said. A young voter who associates himself/herself with the party tends to remain connected with it for a long time, he said, adding that camps were organised to enrol them. For the Samajwadi Party, its spokesperson Sunil Singh Sajan said its youth wing is actively reaching out to youngsters, especially college students.
“We are telling them about the welfare works done by the party when it was in power in the state e.g. the scheme to distribute laptops among meritorious students and the job opportunities created by it,” he said.
Lallan Kumar, a member of the Election Campaign Committee of the state Congress, said his party is working on ways to strengthen the educational system so that youngsters can get the career of their choice. “And with this message, we are going to the youth explaining what the party is doing to enable them get a suitable career and subsequently jobs,” he said. There are some families which cannot pay fees as a result of which they could not get education, he said, adding the party is working on ways to ensure that poor students get quality and affordable education.
“The party is focussing on ways to know the aspirations of the youth. We do not indulge in ‘Mann Ki Baat’, but listen to other people as well,” he said, taking a jibe at Prime Minister Modi’s monthly radio programme. In the last parliamentary elections, the BJP won 71 seats in the state, securing 42.63 per cent of the votes cast. Its ally Apna Dal bagged two. The SP had won five seats with a vote share of 22.35 per cent. The BSP did not win any but secured 19.77 per cent of votes cast. The Congress registered wins on two UP seats — Amethi and Raebareli — in 2014, bagging 7.53 per cent of the votes.