Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday called for increasing the voter turnout to at least 75 per cent in the next Lok Sabha elections.
In his message at an event on the occasion of the 12th National Voters Day, he said as a nation we must think and arrive at a consensus to have simultaneous elections to all the three tiers of federal set up and move towards better governance by focusing on all-round development of our people.
Naidu was the chief guest at the event but could not attend the function as he is in home isolation in Hyderabad after testing positive for COVID-19.
”In the 75th year of our Independence, let us resolve to leave no voter behind and aim to increase the voter turnout to at least 75 per cent in the next general elections.Let each one realise that vote is not only a right but a responsibility,” he said.
His message was read out in Hindi and English. The vice president said the country has come a long way from the first general elections of 1952 when only 44.87 per cent of the eligible voters turned up to vote.
In the last general elections in 2019, 67.40 per cent or more than two-third of the eligible voters exercised their franchise, he noted. ”It is heartening to note that today, we are among the highest voting nations in the world with a substantial increase of 50 per cent in voter turnout in 70 years.
The Election Commission came into being on January 25, 1950, a day before India became a republic. For the past 12 years now, the day is celebrated as National Voters Day.
Thanks to initiatives like Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP), voter turnout has increased by 8 per cent from 58.21 per cent in 2009 to 66.44 per cent in 2014, he said. ”I am delighted that in the last general elections in 2019 and for the first time, women voter turnout was more than that of men by a margin of 0.17 per cent,” Naidu said. Elections to various assemblies last year held under Covid protocol formulated by the Commission has witnessed a huge voter turnout in the range of 74 per cent to 84 per cent, he observed. Addressingvthe gathering, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra reiterated Commission’s determination to make elections more inclusive, accessible and participative. The event was also attended by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and representatives of recognised political parties, including Trinamool Congress, BSP, BJP, CPI, Congress and National People’s Party.
On the occasion, the Commission conferred national awards for the best electoral practices to officers for their outstanding performance in the conduct of elections in different spheres. In addition, awards were also conferred on government departments and media houses for their outstanding contribution in the field of voter awareness and outreach. The EC launched a publication ”Leap of Faith: Journey of Indian Elections”. The book narrates India’s electoral history.
Another publication, ”Pledging to Vote – A decadal Journey of The National Voters’ Day in India” was also released. The book presents the journey of National Voters’ Day celebrations.
A national voter awareness contest- ‘My Vote is my Future- Power of One Vote’ was also launched to reiterate the importance of every vote.