The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
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Youth power for turnout

In 1971, Lance Naik Albert Ekka had set an example by defending his country till his last breath. On April 10, 2014, Albert Ekka’s native village in Lohardaga may create history as one hamlet where every eligible voter exercised his or her franchise.

Jari is one village where volunteers of a state-based voluntary outfit are burning the midnight oil to spread awareness on democratic rights.

NGO Vikas Bharti, which has roped in 2,000 volunteers from as many panchayats across Jharkhand, conducted a training session in Ranchi earlier this week for 50 youths.

Santosh Kumar (26), who is working in Ekka’s village, attended the session. Kumar said he was leaving no stone unturned to ensure that every eligible person turned up on polling day.

“I am closely scrutinising the voter list so that not a single name goes missing. I have gone door to door to request people to exercise their choice in this crucial general elections,” Kumar said, adding that they were taught at the session how to keep an eye on illegal practices.

Vikas Bharti’s head Ashok Bhagat confirmed that they had deputed 2,000 volunteers across 24 districts to sensitise voters, especially those in the 18-40 age group.

“The state has 1,17,78,293 voters in this age group and this section can play a major role in bringing about change at the national level. We have selected 2,000 panchayats in remote areas. The government and agencies neglect these places. We are trying to reach out to these forgotten voters through our young volunteers,” he said.

Sujit Goswami, who is planning and managing the programme, said: “We will observe March 23 as Sankalp Diwas. On that day, all our volunteers will pledge that every eligible villager in their areas will cast vote. We have also constituted district conveners so that problems, if any, are sorted out at the earliest.”