How does getting inked for the first time feel like?

TNIE speaks to first-time voters to understand their excitement about exercising their franchise in the upcoming general elections, how they are keeping up with the campaigns, or whether they are ambivalent towards all the political hoopla.
How does getting inked for the first time feel like?
Express illustrations.

S Devasankar, 21, student, Kochi

Our social science teacher taught us that voting is not only our right, it is our responsibility. Though I didn’t understand the gravity of this then, now I am more aware. I like to look at elections with an optimistic eye and believe that they can bring about changes to our society. I know that this is a highly romanticised point of view. I am thrilled to vote for the first time because I get to play my part in the functioning of Indian democracy. So, it is a dream coming true. I believe that this election is a crucial point in history and we are going through a transitional period. I have decided to vote for the party, which is better in comparison. My policy is to choose what is lesser evil among the limited options we have.

Jeeba Surgi, 22, student, Thiruvananthapuram

This year will be my first vote. I couldn’t cast my vote during the assembly polls. I don’t want to waste my franchise. It is my right. I have been keeping up with the current political climate and the election’s main talking points. What I want is to live in a secular country, and I want to contribute to building a nation like that. Since I’m not satisfied with the candidates, I will most probably vote for NOTA. It’s my way of expressing my disagreement with the political parties.

Bahira K, 20, student, Kannur

I think our country is witnessing a decline in democratic and secular sentiments. Politics have turned more ruthless with some in power using everything in their arsenal, including government institutions, to mute the opposition. I neither see any eligible leaders in the major opposing parties nor in the ruling one. I’m guided by what the MPs have done previously. I don’t want to contribute to the politics of hate. I’m thinking deeply about whom to cast my vote on the D-day.

Kesav Siju, 18, student, T’Puram

Many youngsters are clued in to what’s happening in the country. Some keep away from the political issues because politicians and their policies are not catering to their needs. That said, all of us are very political. While it is true that Thiruvananthapuram is a Tharoor bastion, I think change is on the horizon. I’ve learnt about the work that BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar has done. Also, the Narendra Modi factor cannot be discounted. We are in for a big election and I’m excited to cast my vote.

Sreya R Nair, 19, student, Palakkad

I feel indifferent about the upcoming elections as I’m not into politics. Since I’m living in Ernakulam and casting my vote in Palakkad, I only have a rough idea about the candidates. I think it is better to vote based on the ideology of parties rather than individual candidates. I find the Left more appealing.

Abhinand S S, 20, student, Thiruvananthapuram

Ram Mandir is a big topic this election season. But I don’t think the temple should be used as a political tool. For the past 15 years, the same candidate has been winning in my constituency. I wouldn’t mind a new MP. I will vote for the candidate that I agree the most with. I won’t waste my vote on NOTA.

Sharat Nair, 24, IT professional, Thiruvananthapuram

I never wanted to vote because I was under the impression that one vote cannot make any significant change. This time, I will vote because I’m satisfied with the ruling government and I want the same to continue. In Kerala, it is tough for the party to win. So if my vote could buoy them, then why not? I’ll be travelling from my workplace in Bengaluru to Kerala for the purpose.

Saarika T S, 23, student, Perumbavoor

The main issue I am facing is unemployment. Most of the youngsters, including my friends, are going abroad. I hope this election will bring about a positive change. Though I have a personal political leaning, this time I will be casting my vote for NOTA.

Merin Rose Bijoy, 20, student, Kochi

I find it hard to be interested in the voting process when all I hear about is corruption and self-serving parties. None of them seem to work for the people’s benefit. The lack of genuine options concerns me. I consider voting for NOTA.

Nima B M, 18, student, Thiruvananthapuram

I have already decided whom to vote for. I don’t like discrimination based on religion or any attacks based on it. My vote will reflect that. I don’t think any religion is superior. Having thoroughly reviewed all the manifestos, I have made my decision. My vote is not for NOTA. Doing so would be a big loss.

Ananthakrishnan C A, 19, student, T’Puram

I’m thrilled about the upcoming election because I will be participating in the world’s largest democratic exercise. Since childhood, I have watched family members going to the polls. This time, I will have the chance to experience it myself. I have not yet decided on whom to cast my first vote, or if it should be for NOTA. I’m learning the current political scenario through various media. I have also closely observed the candidates. I will make a decision soon.

Dona Maria Sebastian, 21, student, Peermade

I don’t even know the names of the candidates contesting from my constituency. So my vote will go for the party that closely aligns with my needs. I feel like the issues that should be at the forefront are unemployment, corruption, and price hikes. I don’t know whether the election result will solve any of these. However, I do believe that my vote is important, and I won’t give it away. I’m also very certain of which party will not win in my constituency.

Aravind R Nair, 21, student, Ernakulam

I don’t follow politics. It is not a big conversation among my friends. But parties have started campaigning on social media too these days. Thanks to this, I’m aware about the candidates. I want to see politicians who keep their promises. Ensuring women’s safety and tackling the drug menace are two issues I want the soon-to-be MP to prioritise. While Narendra Modi’s influence can’t be discounted, punching in equal weight are also Shashi Tharoor, Rahul Gandhi and K K Shailaja.

Annarose Jaison, 18, student, Thrissur

Participating in democracy for the first time feels empowering. I’m eager to take part in deciding which party will form the government. However, recent news about EVM malpractices has me questioning the integrity of my vote. While I may not know much about the candidates yet, I’m looking forward to learning more.

Sam Jones, 26, IT professional, Pathanamthitta

I was not in Kerala for a while and couldn’t vote till now. This time, I can exercise my franchise. I’m concerned about the lack of separation between state and religion. The latter should never have any place in the matters of government. As far as the constituency I belong to is concerned, it has the potential for development. I was not content with the activities of the previous MP. Now, I have done a detailed analysis of the candidates to help my decision.

Neha Valsaraj, 20, student, Kannur

As a first-time voter, I’m curious about the whole process. I checked the Election Commission website to understand everything. More than a right, I think voting is a citizen’s responsibility. I’m interested in politics and I did a detailed study on the candidates contesting in my constituency and others. What I’ve understood is that most of them have vested interests. Only some are genuinely interested in being the people’s representative. My major issue with our country is gender discrimination. Though the Constitution grants equal rights, it feels like the country has a long way to go.

Vaidyanathan S, 20, student, Kozhikode

I think I have figured out the candidate who can best help our people. I have heard many stories of how helpful that candidate has been to all. My personal view is that whoever wins should strive to ensure that they do everything possible for the welfare of the people. Political and other biases should not impair their work. Ongoing issues regarding inefficient governance are certain to dictate the polls. More than the candidates’ mass appeal, I think it is their political goodwill that counts. I believe in this democratic exercise and I’m certain my vote will help usher in a positive change.

Compiled by:

Mahima Anna Jacob, Ronnie Kuriakose, Parvana K B, Niranjana K P, Swathy Lekshmi Vikram, Aparna Mary Bilna

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