The ‘ethical voting’ campaign launched by the Election Commission of India has pulled big crowds in rural as well as urban centres of Garo hills areas under Tura parliamentary constituency in Meghalaya in the run up to the polling that is being held on Wednesday.
“The campaign is all about enlightening the common voter about how precious his/her vote in respect of shaping the future of our democracy and how important it is to vote with responsibility to elect their representative without getting influenced by various sops offered by the political parties and poll candidates during election,” said an official engaged by the EC for the campaign in Tura.
There were sizeable turnouts of people in all venues where the EC’s decorated ethical voting campaign van was positioned. For instance, it turned out to be a different weekly market day for traders and market goers at Rongram weekly market on last Friday morning along Tura-Guwahati highway. The people gathered in the popular weekly market got the taste of Election Commission’s efforts to make people aware on ethical voting overcoming the lure on the offer from different political parties and poll candidates in the form of money, liquor, dinner party etc.
A huge crowd comprising tribal people and persons from all walks of life gathered around the EC’s van blocking the traffic on the highway passing through the market for over half an hour.
The EC vehicles was decorated with flex and posters with message for voters came to a halt for about 40 minutes for the awareness campaign much to the glee of people thronging the
market in the forenoon hours.
The election department here engaged a leading women entrepreneur of Tura, Dr Alva Sangma, who secured her Ph.D from North Eastern Hill University on the topic, “Rites of passage in Garo oral literature” for the campaign for delivering the message from the EC to the common voters in local Garo language in a lucid manner. A local EC official said that she had been chosen for the campaign because of her standing as a successful woman entrepreneur in the area and hoped that people would listen to what she had to say about voting.
Standing on the EC van, she called upon the crowd comprising all age groups and persons from all walks of life to vote with responsibility, not to get influenced by money power of poll candidates and vote for the candidate who, they thin can bring better changes to their lives.
The EC team travelling in the awareness campaign van that sports a big poster titled: “Wanted your vote on April 9, 2014” distributed leaflets, posters and pamphlets among the onlookers.
The leaflets explain that acceptance of money to vote for a candidate is a corrupt practice of bribery under Section 123 (1) of R P Act, 1951 and that it is also an offence under Section 171-B of Indian Penal Code. It also says acceptance of any liquor or other intoxicants or dinner to vote for a particular party candidate or not to vote for him is bribery.
Standing witness to the awareness campaign , Singrak Marak (27) of Ninchongre village about 22 kilometers away from Rongram market said, the campaign was need of the hour as the voters especially illiterate voters stood vulnerable to sops offered by candidates during poll time.
He said there had been practice in Meghalaya to offer people with liquor, bribes etc. Happy Kharsing, a woman trader in the market, said the campaign should have been organised in remote village areas than in a market as the people living in remote villages of Garo hills areas consider it usual practice to get treated with liquor, dinner parties etc during election time.
Image: The EC's election awareness campaign in Meghalaya.