|(From top) Bigan Soy, Deepika Kumari and Saurabh Tiwary
Jamshedpur, Feb. 6: Apolitical icons will help the Election Commission (EC) to improve voter turnout during the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. And, for a sport-dominated state like Jharkhand, looking for someone from the sporting fraternity was all but natural.
Following instructions from EC, the office of the state chief electoral officer is on a hunt for well-known faces to persuade voters to queue up at polling booths. The office has already identified four sports persons and talks are on to rope them in.
So, what is the first name that comes to mind?
No brownie points for guessing, it’s our very own golden girl Deepika Kumari.
Besides her, the other names doing the rounds are that of international cricketer Saurabh Tiwary and Varun Raymond Aaron and hockey star Bigan Soy.
State deputy chief electoral officer Abhay Kumar Rao held an hour-long meeting with chief of guest relations and sports of Tata Steel Farzan Heerjee on Thursday to rope in the ace archer and southpaw Saurabh Tiwary as brand ambassadors of EC in the state.
“It was a fruitful discussion. We had earlier approached Deepika Kumari this year with our proposal, but she had asked us to take permission from her employer (Tata Steel). Heerjee promised us to place our offer before the company’s special committee that deals with such issues. The steel major will intimate us sometime later this month,” said Rao.
The 19-year-old Arjuna awardee and gold medallist Deepika joined Tata Steel in July 2012 as manager in the sports wing of the steel major, while Tiwary, who has donned the national jersey in ODIs and hails from Jamshedpur, had been in the same designation since August 2010.
As far as goalie Bigan Soy and fast bowler Varun Raymond Aaron are concerned, the office of the state chief electoral officer has initiated talks with the two sport icons on a personal level.
“We hope to finalise the names by the end of this month,” Rao added.
Bigan Soy (20), a girl from Chaibasa in West Singhbhum, was the goalie who played a pivotal part during the nail-biting penalty shootout and led India to win against England to clinch the first ever bronze during the Hockey Junior World Cup 2013 Women in Mönchengladbach, Germany.
Varun Aaron, on the other hand, has represented the country in international matches.
The voting percentage in the state hover around 55 per cent, with urban areas faring worse.During the 2009 Lok Sabha election, only 51 per cent voters turned up, while 2011 Lok Sabha bypoll saw the percentage rising to 53.
So, what would be the job of these icons once they are roped in as brand ambassador of EC?
“They will feature in short films and advertisements that will encourage people, especially youngsters, to participate in election,” said Rao.
Mobile vans showing the visual clippings with messages of these brand ambassadors will go to the different districts.
The advertisement, on the other hand, will be released as part of Sveep (systematic voters’ education and electoral participation) process of the commission.