With approaching state elections, various groups are aggressively promoting the need to vote. The ‘Each one, kheech one’ campaign. Graffiti on public spaces. Stand up comic. social media messages — the hype created is more than even the campaigns of various political parties.

Every radio channel has roped in some celebrity or other to talk about the need to vote. Advertisements on radio are aimed at making listeners feel that the change is in their hand, so they need to vote and make sure they make the right choice.

Unlike the last couple of elections where every leading political leader’s blogs were widely read, this time a lot is riding on social media platforms, especially on WhatsApp. Random groups have been formed and members added, irrespective of which constituency one belongs to. This time it looks like leaders and parties have hired event managers, PR firms and social media handlers to manage their publicity on various platforms.

One painting that caught eyeballs on social media is Swati and Vijay’s street art of the polling booth. The artist couple has a logic in their representation of a polling booth. They have replaced the ballot box with a western commode. The line of voters are seen dropping their vote into the WC and from the flush tank hangs NOTA.

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“The drawing is pretty much what is on every voter’s mind. We have bad, worse and worst. So, we are forced to select the best option which is bad. In that way, our voices are actually going down the drain. But since we have to vote for our right, we either vote for the best among the worst of the lot or press NOTA. NOTA again will not solve our problem. Which means no matter what we do, our votes will be down the drain,” explains Vijay.

Do they suggest that people don’t vote at all? “No never. This is the right we have to exercise. And who knows, the bad can be bring about some change and do some good after all,” he adds.

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If Swati and Vijay’s art work has much to speak, the WhatsApp groups are as simple as ‘lets vote for …’ or better still ‘updates on the campaign walks and deeds by the contestants’. Also making funny waves are the posts on social media platforms, that are photographic evidence of what leaders promise to do or how much they care for their people. So an occasional photo of a leader making boondi or washing the butt of a baby is actually providing a comic relief.

By taking a non-partisan stand, a website called ‘Let’s vote in’ seems to be an initiative “aimed at helping the citizens to find their voice, exercise their right, and contribute to positive development.

Understanding the lack of talks and discussions in colleges on the need to vote Youngistaan Foundation conducted a unique awareness campaign to encourage youngsters in Telangana to vote, by conducting a night of Slam Poetry and Stand-up Comedy. The motive was to encourage healthy and creative discussions among the youngsters on the importance of voting. Alick, Ishani, Shrutika, Zaki, Zaka, Vivek, Sandesh and Avinash were the performers of this event, the second to be hosted by the NGO.

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Founder of Youngistaan Foundation, Arun Yellamaty says, “It’s sad to see that only 50 percent from the urban and educated crowd turned up to vote last term, we need to increase that percentage, we need to encourage more and more urban people to vote. In India, 70% of the population are youngsters, we want them to stand up and vote and believe that they can be the reason for our country’s development and growth through choosing a right leader.”

He adds, “All we need to do is to educate voters about the candidates they’ll be voting for and ensure they turn up to vote despite sun, rain or long queues. Also it’s important to tell them not to vote on the basis of religion, caste or for money. They need to pick the best leader who can build the area and city they live in.” #KhabarLive

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