Odisha Polls : First-Time Voters May Turn Out To Be Opinion Makers

Bhubaneswar: As polls draw nearer, the fever of ‘festival of democracy’ is slowly infecting everybody including the first-time voters across the State.

Though their number may not be all that large, all eyes are on them as they will make their debut in casting their franchise.

The parties and their respective candidates in the fray are no mood to them for a stride. In each of the poll campaign and rallies, the crucial youth issues remain on the lips of politicians as they canvass to woo the voters in their fold.

Around 5.45 lakh first-time are enrolled in the electoral roll and have attained the eligibility to exercise their franchise in the upcoming General Elections in Odisha.

Numerically, the first-time voters constitute minuscule chunk of total voters. But their opinion and reaction on democratic exercise counts a lot as they are future of the country. They are emerging as opinion makers to influence the adult voters of their respective families. Being internet and computer-savvy, they are much more informed than their parents and family members. They have better access to credentials, plus & minus points of parties and candidates. There is every likelihood that they could play a dominant role in influencing their family. Under this perspective, the first-time voters would play a key role in the twin elections on April 29, said the district wing chief of Election Watch, Chitta Ranjan Sahoo,

Our party is intent on empowering the youth power. Our party’s manifesto has laid due emphasis on them with generation of job opportunities. The first-time voters and youths are inclined towards Congress than other parties, said Ganeswar Behera, the Congress’s candidate fighting polls from Kendrapara assembly seat.

There is mixed feeling and excitement among first-time voters as quite a few are sceptical of political parties and their discredited leaders.

None of the parties impressed me. They have promised a lot in the manifestos. But everybody is doubtful of its implementation if they come to power. In my area, lack of qualitative education and employment is a major issue for. I am seeing no change in the scenario right from my adolescent days. I will go to the polling booth. But I am thinking of pressing NOTA (None of The Above) in the EVM to vent my anger against the lack of employment to youths, said a fist-time voter Ashish Das, from Garadapur village under Patkura assembly constituency.

However other first-time voters differ from him.

“I will not waste my vote in NOTA. I will vote for good candidate who has the stature and mindset to deliver the goods”, said another first-timer, Aroon Mohanty from Kendrapara town.

More than the candidate, it’s the party that counts in delivering the goods. So I will go for the party while casting franchise, said another young voter requesting not to be named.

I am going through the poll manifestos of the parties. They are all impressive in contents and promises. I am yet to decide whom to voter, remarked another young voter, Subhash Mallick from Rajnagar.