Asansol, April 15: Debajyoti Chakraborty wondered if a political party had entered the Asansol mall where he had gone shopping with his family when a soft voice on the public address system urged residents to come out and vote.
Before the private firm employee could make out which party was campaigning, the voice also urged people to stop smoking.
Galaxy Mall in Asansol today launched a radio service to create awareness on various issues, including urging residents to come out and vote on May 7, the day the Burdwan town goes to polls.
Called the New Mall Radio, the initiative will also entail slogans creating awareness on the ill effects of smoking and drink driving that will be heard on the mall’s 222 speakers.
The initiative is part of the Election Commission’s Systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.
As part of the programme to increase voter participation, the Burdwan administration has collaborated with various malls and shops in Asansol and Durgapur to offer discounts to those who produce their voter cards.
The administration is also sending teams to various colleges in the area to urge students to vote, apart from writing graffiti.
Asked about the radio programme, Galaxy Mall chief Soumen Pal said: “Usually, we play soft music at the mall. But when the administration requested us to encourage new voters as part of the SVEEP programme, we gladly agreed. Apart from urging shoppers to vote, we have decided to create social awareness against smoking and drink driving. I have seen such initiatives being taken up in malls in Bangalore.”
A voice heard on the speakers of the Asansol mall said: “Join the poll process to build a strong nation. Indian women have always participated in the development of the nation. They should come forward this time, too, with their opinions and views to select the government. First-time voters are the future of our country. So build a strong nation through voting….”
The campaign, which began today, will be conducted by the mall authorities in Bengali, Hindi and English from 11am to 10pm.
“The campaign to urge people to vote will end after May 7. But our social and health awareness programmes will continue,” said Pal of Galaxy Mall.
Several malls in the twin towns are offering discounts ranging from 10-15 per cent to those who produce their voter cards, but an awareness campaign on the radio is yet to be taken up in other shopping utilities.