The Telegraph
Friday , January 24 , 2014
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Cast your vote, please

Mat dalna aapka adhikar hai, matdata banei

Matadhikar ka prayog kar loktantr ko majboot karein

Wondering what such messages are doing on government notices in newspapers, the Web and TVs?

Well, this is the Election Commission of India’s new strategy to reach out to the indifferent Jharkhandi who shies away from voting.

Taking stock of the poor voting percentage in previous elections in the state, the cabinet (election) department under the Election Commission has launched an advertising blitz to raise awareness among people so that they take a shot at the EVMs in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

It has asked the state information and public relations department (IPRD) to carry slogans and messages urging all to vote in government tenders and notices published in print and aired or screened in electronic media.

“We wrote to the IPRD on January 15, requesting it to advertise election slogans in every government tender and message. We also provided them with samples that are being carried at the bottom of tenders and notices,” said A.K. Rao, joint secretary at the cabinet (election) department.

IPRD director A.K. Pandey confirmed to have received the letter and the slogans, describing the publicity campaign as a “time-tested continuous hammering” approach to make maximum impact on the public’s mind.

“We started tagging election messages at the bottom of tenders and government notices since January 20. It will definitely make an impact,” A.K. Pandey, director of IPRD, told The Telegraph.

He also enumerated other benefits of this form of advertisement.

“We are not spending additional money in spreading the message among voters. Secondly, all the messages are different. So, if there are eight tenders on a page, readers will get to read eight kinds of messages,” Pandey added.

As for the electronic media, the government notices that are aired or shown on the screen have a jingle at the end, reminding the electorate to cast their vote.

On an average, around 50 to 60 government tenders and notices are released by the IPRD through print and electronic media every day.

According to Pandey, the campaign will run till the general elections.

Jharkhand is known for its laid-back voting culture with a majority of the electorate, mostly the urban elite class, staying away from booths during Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Result? Fractured verdicts, a hung Assembly and eventually, an unstable government cobbled together by bickering allies.

“One of the biggest reasons as to why Jharkhand never has had a stable government is because of poor voting percentage. The more the voters come out to exercise their franchise, the better will be the political equations. The initiative of both the Election Commission and IPRD is praiseworthy in this regard,” said senior Congress leader J.P. Gupta.

Rao also tried to tap the print media as an independent entity to take the election commission’s message to the readers.

“We wish that just like the IPRD newspapers too dedicate the space at the bottom of first page to voter awareness messages. The department will acknowledge the media house concerned for taking such an initiative,” he added.

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