‘I Vote To Resist Fascism’: First-time Voters Speak (Part I)
As part of its #MyFirstVote series, NewsCentral24x7 spoke to youngsters about what concerns them the most as they set out to vote for the first time.
With over 8.4 crore first-time voters participating in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, they form a sizable chunk of the electorate. All competing parties, big or small, have tried their best to woo this section in the voters’ list. While the Prime Minister, accused of violating the Model Code of Conduct, asked first-timers to vote in the name of the Air Strike at Balakot, the Congress party has also been using social media to its best to appeal to this section.
NewsCentral24x7 spoke to first time voters — as part of its #MyFirstVote series — about what concerns them the most as they set out to vote for the first time.
23-year-old Iqra, a law student from Gandhinagar, Gujarat said that the narrative along the lines of division and hatred does not appeal to her. “My vote is a declaration against tyranny, an instrument of holding power accountable, a personal contribution for the preservation of our institutions and the ideals of the Indian Constitution. It is my rebellion and refusal to submit to the narrative of division and hatred that seeks to engulf the essence of India,” said Iqra.
Shorya Sood, 22, a masters student at the Department of Political Science in Delhi, will be voting from South West Delhi. Shorya’s primary concern is about the competing parties’ focus on persons with disability.
“The question of accessibility to public and private spaces is the biggest concern for a person with disabilities.” Shorya points out that while the incumbent government had a scheme or two concerning this, it only covered the public sector. “If the same does not apply to the private sector, the disabled person is excluded from a whole lot of opportunities.”
Focusing on the party manifestos and the promises if they are voted power, Shorya adds, “I am a first-time voter and a person with a disability, and view this as one of my biggest concerns. There is massive discrimination on the grounds of disability. I was expecting more from the competing parties’ manifestos. The BJP manifesto misses out on it almost entirely. But the Congress manifesto talks about article 15 of the Indian constitution and increasing its ambit and scope to include disability also as a ground.”
Talking about the exclusion a person with disability faces at multiple places and levels, Shorya says, “The blanket criteria that persons with more than 80 per cent disability cannot sit for MBBS exam, this is all very discriminatory. I am disappointed in this regard with the present government. A lot more needs to be done for the inclusion of persons with disability in public and private spaces.”
Talking to NewsCentral24x7, 19-year-old Harsiddhi Thakral, from Nagpur said that making informed choices is a prerequisite this election season. “‘Not being politically aware’ is a privilege that we need to let go off before it’s taken away from us. The correct time to act has long gone, but today’s a day as good as any. Get aware and make informed choices-because we will have to bear the consequences.”
Ganeshwar, 21, will be voting from the Tirunelveli constituency in Tamil Nadu. A student at the Delhi University, an enthusiastic Ganeshwar tells us that he will be sparing five days to travel home to cast his vote. He asserts that the atmosphere of hatred and insecurity that the ruling party has created for the minorities is unjust.
“This election is crucial because for me because I am tired of a climate of fear, intimidation and exclusion. I vote to resist fascism. I would have been happier if parties didn’t shy away from recognising Muslims as legitimate voters whose support is desirable and invaluable.”
Samridhi Arora, a student at Delhi University, says her focus is if an incumbent party delivered on its promises when in power. 22-year-old Samridhi, who will cast her vote from Ludhiana, flags communal harmony and protection of rights of women and minorities as essential concerns.
She said, “The major issues that concern me are the protection of the rights of gender and minorities, maintenance of communal peace and harmony, stricter implementation of anti-corruption law, stricter laws for those who get an entry ticket into Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.”