Visually challenged women of St Michael’s School for the Blind in Ranchi on Saturday. (Hardeep Singh)
Ranchi, April 12: They cannot see the candidates in the fray in their constituency, but that doesn’t mean that they will not vote to choose their representative in the Parliament.
Twelve visually challenged residents of St Michael’s School for the Blind in Ranchi are looking forward to exercise their franchise in the second phase of Lok Sabha polling in the state on April 17 with the hope of a better future.
Assisted by school staff, the special voters, aged 47 and above, will turn up at their polling booth at Gossner Middle School on Main Road to have their turn at the EVM. Booth-level officers will guide them as they punch the respective buttons.
None of the candidates contesting from Ranchi Lok Sabha seat has met them till now. But the likes of Lakhi Munda (47), Daud Singh Munda (44), Gurucharan Mahto (40), Oraphin Das (47), Bahalen Linda (58), Jiwani Toppo (68) and Shirin Purti (67) don’t seem to mind much. They say they will be happy if their MP merely fulfils their wishes — old-age pension, plus two schools and hostel for visually impaired children, special workshops etc.
“Hum badlao chahte hain taki koi bhi sarkar aye, woh hum log ko rozgar aur hamare baccho ke liye plus two school khol de (We want change so that whoever forms the government generates employment opportunities for us and open a plus two school for the children),” said Lakhi.
He has been staying at St Michael’s School for the Blind since childhood and imparts Braille lessons to the children.
Most of these inmates are poor, deprived of basic facilities and spend their days by teaching and making bamboo baskets. Though they voted in the past, the quality of their life remains unchanged.
“We have been voting for years now, but all MPs merely paid a lip service to the promises they made before the elections. But we want to give them another chances,” said Daud Singh, who is a matriculate.
“Whichever candidate I vote for, that person must ensure timely disbursal of old-age pension. As a beneficiary of the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension, I have not been getting my dues for almost eight months now,” said Shirin Purti.
Asked whether they also believed that the results of this election will bring a change in the life of the special inmates, school principal M.T.P. Agarwal said: “Dekhye iss bar kya hota hain. Hum log to chahte hain yeh log vote dene jaye (Let’s see what happens. We want these people to vote).”