The Telegraph
Monday , March 31 , 2014
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Urban voters, it’s your call

- In debut LS drive, trade bodies plea for bigger turnout

Alarmed by less-than-half urban voting figures in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, for the first time in 2014, influential trade bodies in Jamshedpur and Dhanbad have rolled out separate awareness campaigns in their respective cities.

Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), which launched a drive in Jamshedpur on Sunday on its own initiative, and Bank More Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which teamed up with Dhanbad district administration for a similar campaign starting Saturday, are seriously telling urban, educated voters to exercise their franchise.

Jamshedpur seat comprises six Assembly seats, but two urban pockets, Jamshedpur East and West, voted 44 and 38 per cent in 2009. Dhanbad’s turnout was a tad better at 48.92 per cent in 2009.

For SCCI, the campaign will last till Jamshedpur goes to polls on April 17. The Dhanbad outfit launched a two-day campaign over this weekend, that is March 29-30, while the constituency will vote on April 24.

President of SCCI Suresh Sonthalia said they were concerned over low voter turnout.

“Every citizen should rise to the occasion and cast his or her vote. Thirty hoardings apart, market meetings, street corner plays and cash memo campaigns are some of our initiatives to increase urban votes. The steel city has a population of some 14 lakh but voting percentages are below par,” he said.

On March 25, the SCCI also held a meeting at Chambers Bhavan in Bistupur where many representatives, including outfits of wholesalers, distribution dealers, chemists and druggists, transporters, motor dealers and so on, pledged to vote along with their family.

SCCI will launch a campaign vehicle fitted with public address system. It has also started talks with local NGOs for street corner plays and marketplace campaigns.

In Dhanbad, Bank More Chamber of Commerce and Industry pasted posters, stickers and handbills that it took from the district administration across the city.

Outfit secretary Surendra Arora said: “We distributed over 200 stickers, posters and handbills given to us by the office of Dhanbad subdivisional officer. We must cast votes and also convince others to do so,” he said.

Members of Federation of Dhanbad Zilla Chamber of Commerce, the district level traders’ body, will also host awareness programme from April 1, its president Rajiv Sharma said.

Dhanbad subdivisional officer Abhishek Srivastava, also nodal officer of systematic voters’ education for electoral participation, said they asked all trade outfits to cooperate.

“We have also given 7,000 pledge forms to over 50 private and public schools for distribution among children to pass on to their parents. We have given over two lakh pledge forms to our booth-level officers to distribute among voters,” he added.