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Assam launches initiative to educate voters

Folk song competitions, quiz programmes and appeals by celebrities are some of the initiatives being undertaken by the election office in Assam for attracting women, first-time voters, people with physical disabilities and senior citizens to cast their votes.

Sprinter Hima Das, Whitley Awardee and environmentalist Purnima Devi Barman, singer Tarali Sarma, body builder Golap Rabha and actor Kopil Bora have been roped in as State icons to create awareness about the election process.

District election officers have been directed to reach out to the maximum number of voters in the constituencies under their jurisdiction, Assam Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Sahu said.

“We have kept the local aspects in mind while chalking out the programmes under the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Practices and our aim is to reach out to all sections of voters,” Mr. Sahu said.

‘Make informed choice’

Ms. Das, herself a first-time voter, has urged young voters in a promotional video, to actively participate in the election. Tarali Sarma, who sang the theme song in another awareness video, is seen appealing to first-time voters to make “informed and ethical choices” while casting their “precious” vote.

Besides organising cycle rallies and street plays, campus ambassadors are being appointed in colleges for holding chunaav pathshalas to spread the awareness among first-time voters through co-curricular activities.

In Kamrup district, an election quiz was organised for students while 200 students of IIT-Guwahati have volunteered to undertake door-to-door campaigns in the interior areas, a district election official said.

A major component of the SVEEP is to remove gender gap in polls and an initiative ‘Aaideur Chora’ has been taken up in collaboration with the Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission and Assam State Urban Livelihood Mission to sensitise female voters, the CEO said.

The ASRLM and ASULM are mobilising self-help groups to open women help desks at various government outlets like gram panchayat offices and cooperative societies to facilitate women voters to verify their names, go through voters’ lists and make corrections, if needed. They can also register their names if these do not appear on the rolls.

‘Chandraprabha’, a woman mascot, will be used for spreading the message of participation in the local language.

The nodal officers of the SVEEP campaigns are organising ‘naam’ (folk song) singing, ‘pitha’ and ‘laru’ (Assamese sweets) making competitions and street plays to involve women in the awareness campaigns.

Polling stations with low female voter turn-out have been identified and ‘mahila voter rallies’ are being held, the CEO said.

Mr. Sahu said that persons with disabilities are a major area of focus.

Source: thehindu.com

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