An LPG cylinder with voter awareness stickers in Godda. nSee Pages 6, 7 & 8
Ranchi, April 6: It’s a voter awareness campaign in pockets of Punjab, Rajasthan and other states for this Lok Sabha for weeks, but is oven-fresh in Jharkhand’s rebel-hit Godda seat.
Meet LPG cylinders, kitchen mates in almost every household, which are doubling up as ambassadors of voter awareness for women and households in general with Matdata hone par mujhe garv hai (Proud to vote) stickers.
“All LPG cylinders distributed between today and April 23 will carry voter awareness stickers. These will keep reminding everyone entering kitchens that pressing the EVM button is important. Domestic gas agencies have been directed to paste stickers before dispatch,” said Godda DC and returning officer Rajesh Sharma.
In 2009, 56 per cent Godda voters cast their franchise, more than Jharkhand’s average of 50.9 per cent. But the percentage of Godda’s women turning up to vote was less than 50.
“Main pratigya karta/karti hoon ki main dinang 24. 4. 2014 ko bhaymukt vatavaran mein, bina kisi pralobhan ke, swavivek se matdan karunga/karungi (I promise to vote on April 24 free of fear and enticement, with conscience as my guide),” the cylinder’s sticker makes the pledge on behalf of its user.
This time, 17 persons are vying for the Godda seat, including heavyweights such as sitting MP Nishikant Dubey (BJP), Pradip Yadav (JVM), Furkan Ansari (INC) and others. Nominations, which started on March 31, ended on April 5.
Godda DC Sharma added the district election office identified pockets where voting per cent was very poor in 2009.
“We are targeting the whole constituency, but the special pockets are our thrust areas. Also, women perhaps take their voting rights less seriously, which needs to change,” he said.
Homemakers who got their gas cylinders delivered today were surprised. Krishna Devi (38), a resident of Godda town, read the sticker on her Indane cylinder with excitement. “When the cylinder arrived, I was alarmed that it was some notice from the gas company. When I read the voter awareness pledge, I thought if so much effort is being put, I should cast my vote. Last time, I did not vote,” she confessed.
DC Sharma also revealed another drive aimed at rural women voters started today. “We asked some 500 self-help groups to involve women members to make rangolis on selecting the right candidate. Through this, we hope women at least start talking about nominees and voting,” he said.
There’s a third, he added. “Voter awareness placards have been placed near counters at nationalised and private banks,” he said.