KOCHI: The 2019 general elections for the 543 Lok Sabha seats will see over 1.5 crore first-time voters casting their votes in the country. These voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years constitute 1.66 per cent of the total electorates in the country. This is the countrywide scenario. In Kerala, around 2,61,750 first-time voters will play a big role in deciding the fate of candidates.
Hence, to woo these first-time voters, political parties and candidates are going all out in making use of social media platforms and latest technologies to win the hearts of these youngsters. According to Abey Kuriakose, an ITI student, the political parties are using platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter to connect with young voters. “They are using these platforms to acquaint the tech-savvy youths with their policies and plans. And it is working. Political parties are also using these platforms to motivate youth to exercise their franchise,” he said.
However, most of the youth are a disappointed lot. “It would have been better if national parties had more young candidates in their list. To understand and identify the problems faced by the youth, the leader too should be from a generation closer to their own,” said Albert Benjamin, first year LLB student, NUALS. “Of course, experience matters. But for the older generation to understand the needs of the youth and work accordingly is a bit tough,” he said. According to him, basically, all the youngsters will be influenced by the choice of their family.
“But even then, it would be good to have a candidate who has a strong education background. For me, it is one of the most important qualifications that a candidate needs to gain my vote,” he said. While Albert seeks an educated leader, Anandha Krishnan M S, a BSc mathematics student, wants a candidate who has a finger on the pulse of each and every citizen in the country.
According to Anandha, the leader should be acquainted with the problems faced by the weaker sections of society, workers, students, women and farmers. But, it would have been even great if the candidates chosen by the parties had been younger, he added. “Also, if the candidate had been one who could influence and work for the betterment of those in the grassroots level, it would have been much better,” he said.
Many of the first-time voters are worried about the recent increase in religious tensions. According to Nimisha S Pradeep, an economics student, the move to destroy the plurality of our country is worrying. Many students from Sree Sankaracharya University for Sanskrit who will be casting their votes for the first time expressed disillusionment with the track record of the political parties in the fray. Even as many students expressed their intention to press the NOTA option, the Election Commission and the political parties are going all out to encourage youngsters to cast their votes.