Sunday, August 1, 2010

CEC wants celebrities to help boost voter turn out

The brand Dhoni was successful in pushing up the voter turnout in Jharkhand. The Election commission of India has plans to come up with other ambitious plans involving celebrities.‘Pappu pass ho gaya’ campaign worked really well in Delhi.Quraishi aid that not voting is a fashion statement in big cities.

This report was published in Hindu on August 1 2010:

After the success of brand M. S. Dhoni in pushing up the voter turnout in Jharkhand, the Election Commission plans to rope in celebrities in an ambitious move to encourage people to vote in large numbers.

Newly appointed Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi is upbeat about the voter education campaigns through celebrities following success of his experiments in Delhi and Jharkhand.

Voter percentage in Jharkhand rose from 51 to 58 per cent after cricketer M. S. Dhoni batted for the cause of democracy shortly before the 2009 assembly polls there, he told PTI in an interview.

‘Pappu pass ho gaya’ campaign worked wonders in Delhi, he said, suggesting the exercise of right to vote be made a proud duty of a citizen.

Mr. Quraishi, who would be conducting assembly polls in Bihar this year and those of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry next year, said the EC plans to focus on the youth and would rope in celebrities to reach out to them.

Asked which all celebrities would the EC approach, he said details are not yet decided.

“In big cities, people not only not vote but make fashion statement (of not voting),” Mr. Quraishi said, adding the EC would go the extra mile to ensure that the holiday for exercising the franchise is not misused by people by going in for family vacation.

“We will ensure that the poll day will not be Monday or Friday,” he said.

Talking about his immediate task of conducting assembly elections in Bihar, he said the full Commission will be visit the state for two days next week to oversee preparations for the assembly polls due in October.

The Commission would hold discussions with senior officials of the state on August 8 and 9 as part of reviewing progress in preparation of photo electoral rolls, distribution of Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) and cleaning up of the rolls.

Attaching “high priority” to the conduct of assembly polls in Bihar, Mr. Quraishi said “we are satisfied with our last visit to the state. The election in Bihar is very important.”

The CEC said special efforts will be made to ensure that every single eligible voter is on the rolls. The Commission will consider factors like examination, monsoon, festivals, law and order and force requirement before finalizing the poll schedule.

Mr. Quraishi said the Commission would visit West Bengal this month to review preparedness in the state where assembly polls are due by June next.

Replying to a question on Maoists problem in the state, he said every state has its own character and own set of problems and the EC would evaluate the situation and come out with its “response”.

“We hope there will be good and peaceful elections in West Bengal,” he said.

Ruling out advancing of assembly polls in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the CEC said the EC would come into the picture only six months before the due date.

Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has been insisting on early polls in the Left-ruled state citing “breakdown” of law and order there.

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