Sinlung /
31 March 2014

Meghalaya takes to the skies to create poll awareness

Election commission ropes in famous singers and sportspersons

By Archisman Dinda

  • Image Credit: Archisman Dinda/Gulf News
  • The Election Commission has organised kite flying to encourage voters to cast their franchise.
Guwahati: The election department of Meghalaya is banking on music and kites — the two favourite pastimes of the people of the region — to create awareness among voters, especially first-time voters, to encourage them to exercise their franchise.
In the 2009 general elections, the state witnessed a low voter turnout of just 64 per cent which the department wants to change and is adopting various innovative ways, P. Naik, Chief Election Officer of Meghalaya, said.
“This time we are hoping that music and kites do the trick for us. We are also doing on door–to-door campaigns to ensure higher voter turnout,” said Naik.
With the slogans “Your Vote Counts”, “India needs you to vote” engraved on them, colourful kites of various shapes and designs swerved in the clouds as a large crowd gathered to take part in the competition at the Golf club in the scenic city of Shillong.
Kites fitted with lights were also spotted in the evening sky as part of the “1001 lights” programme to spread awareness among voters on the importance of exercising their franchise when the state goes to the polls on April 9 to elect its two representatives from Tura and Shillong parliamentary constituencies.
“Kite flying is very popular in the state. Hence we thought of using the medium to reach out to the people and encourage them to vote,” said Sanjay Goyal, the polling officer of the constituency. “We will organise many such programmes in the run-up to polling day so that people understand the value of their vote,” said Goyal. The state poll panel is hoping for a 20 per cent rise in voting.
The state poll panel has also roped in famous singers, bands and sports persons to spread awareness. Nationally famed choir group Shillong Chamber Choir, popular singer Headingson Ryntathiang, along with former world champion karate kid Linza F, Syiem, sensational boxer Torak Kharpran and local designer Tatania Momin are among those who are appealing to the people, especially the youth, to vote.
A music video by the choir titled “Just one”, which features the state’s artistes and sport stars, has already become an instant hit with the young voters of Meghalaya.
“We are indeed privileged to be a part of the campaign. It is our duty to vote and if we are able to encourage people in the state to vote, we will be performing the duty every Indian must do,” said Neil Nongkynrih, founder of the choir.
Meghalaya is a state in north-east India. The name means “abode of clouds” in Sanskrit.
Capital: Shillong, a popular hill station, is known as the “Scotland of the East”
Area: 22,429 sq km
Chief Minister: Mukul Sangma (Indian National Congress)
Parliamentary constituencies: 2 - Shillong and Tura
The main political parties of the state are Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and National People’s Party (NPP).
Key political personalities: Mukul Sangma
Purno Sangma, Speaker of Lok Sabha from 1996 to 1998 and Chief Minister of Meghalaya from 1988 to 1990


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