‘My Vote Is A Declaration Against Tyranny’: First-time Voters Speak (Part II)
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.
Vishal Verma, a 23-year-old research scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University said, “There are many issues, but one of the most important issues, I see, is- who, or which party can better use our democratic institutions to the maximum benefit and betterment of people.” Concerned about the deteriorating condition of public institutions, Vishal said, “In the last five years, we have witnessed that the ruling regime made numerous attempts to destroy institutions in favour of a few corporates. It also resorted to misusing CBI and the judiciary for its political benefits.”
Vishal, who will cast his vote from Madhubani, Bihar, expressed that a grave concern is that the democratic institutions that are supposed to ensure the people’s active participation and role in meaning and decision making about their future have not been performing as they should have. “I believe that this has not been focused on by any party yet,” he added.
As part of its #MyFirstVote series, NewsCentral24x7 spoke to several young voters who are soon to cast their first vote. Freedom from fascism, an end to communal politics, employment and much more make up the concerns of these youngsters.
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.
25-year-old Supragya, a UPSC Aspirant from Pataliputra was unable to vote in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the state assembly elections in 2015. Speaking to NewsCentral24x7, Supragya said, “The most critical issue I am keeping in mind is development — all around and not just economic. The work in terms of policies, schemes, plans brought forth by the governments in a term. This includes not only what was promised or planned or initiated but the actual outcome of the same — available through reports of various organisations and a multitude of surveys done.”
She added, “It is easy to pick out the negative points — scams, frauds, corruption, policy errors, but as a young, hopeful citizen with a fair understanding of the Constitution and the nation’s social, cultural, political scenario, I am focusing on the positive — work that was promised and then actually done.”
She further said, “The rising intolerance, violence against minorities and a general sense of volatility in the mood of the nation is what concerns me the most. Safety of women, rising structural unemployment and protection of the right to privacy are some of the other issues that have not been adequately addressed by any of the parties or candidates.”
Soumilya De, 22, who will cast his vote from Serampore, West Bengal, said: “I look for security, say it job security, health security or the kind that ensures individual rights are not violated. I never wanted to grow up in a society that is biased towards a religion or community. Equal opportunity for everyone is what I always desired,” adding, “Education must be the topmost priority. Only strong education can eradicate the much talked about issues from the root. My vote will go for the political leader with an agenda, that includes these points among others.”
22-year-old Daniya Shah, who will cast her first vote from Batamaloo in Srinagar said, “The Indian constitution was written to embrace the voices of all the people in the country, or at least represent them to the best extent possible. And yet many parties at the national and regional level today often perpetuate ideological separatism, hereditary succession and selective accountability, all of which have deluded voters into thinking that the system of voting is not psychological appeasement and cannot bring a radical change in today.”
Shah added, “Elections are often reduced to a show of strength and money between the two dominant sides. There’s no real choice. And on top of everything we live in a country which consists of millions of people who do not even understand the voting process or what a referendum is and no political party bats an eye about it. I’m excited to see whether our election constructed chowkidar gets away by seeking votes in the name of Army this time.”
She added, “Every single vote counts, I am scared to vote, and we all should be because it’s on us. We are the ones who vote people into power, and we cannot afford to stay in our safe spaces anymore. For this election, at least, I hope everyone realises the importance of their vote.”