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Icons fail to inspire many voters to exercise franchise

New Delhi: Use of seven national and state icons by the Election Commission failed to inspire a substantive chunk of voters in the national capital where the voter turnout saw a five per cent drop during polling on May 12 as compared to the last Lok Sabha elections.

The icons, who included six sports personalities and a singer, were used as part of voter awareness campaign to boost the voting percentage.

Delhi recorded a turnout of 60.52 per cent in the polling on May 12, official data said.

Among the electorate who exercised their franchise, 60.82 per cent were male voters and 60.15 per cent were females.

As per Delhi Chief Electoral Office, the turnout was not up to the mark despite the drive to create awareness among the electorate to exercise their franchise.

As part of voter awareness programme, the department had used table tennis player Manika Batra and cricketer Rishabh Pant as the face of the campaign along with Public Works Department’s para-athletes Neeraj Yadav and Ankur Dhama as state icons.

Besides, the election body used former marathon runner Sunita Godara, playback singer Mohit Chauhan and national kabaddi player Mohit Chhillar as district icons for east, south and north-west districts in Delhi, respectively, an official said.

As part of our slogan “no voter to be left behind”, the official said, the election body adopted several other measures to create awareness through radio jingles, digital methods and outdoor campaigns through 2,700 buses.

Asked if the national and state brand ambassadors failed to increase the voter turnout in Delhi, the official, requesting anonymity, said: “Famous personalities are chosen to make an appeal and make voters aware about their voting rights. They engaged themselves in every function organised by us. They did their work well.”

Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh, cricketer Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s face could not do any miracle and the voter turnout in the state was similar to 2014 elections.

B.D. Ram Tiwar, Additional Chief Electoral Officer (Uttar Pradesh), told IANS that the voter turnout in 2014 was around 59-60 per cent and it is similar this year too. “The Brand ambassador played his role well.”

Going into the elections, the Election Commission (EC) had asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to promote the idea of casting votes and the same was done by the Indian players during the India-Australia ODI series.

“The EC wanted the Indian players to first record a video to promote the idea of going out and casting the vote and that video was recorded during the India-Australia series before the start of the Indian Premier League and after that, the players also promoted voting and the concept of voter registration by posting about it on their social media handles,” a BCCI executive told IANS.

The matter was also discussed by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) in the meeting on February 22 and the notion was that such an act would be in the national interest.

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