Bhubaneswar, Dec 27:
Odisha Election Watch, in collaboration with Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), launched the ‘My vote, My country’ campaign at the IDCOL Auditorium Hall here on Friday.
Inaugurating the programme, Dr Mona Sharma, Chief-Electoral-Officer, Odisha, urged all citizens to register their names in the voters’ list through form No.-6. “Women and youth, in particular, should take part in the electoral process in larger numbers,” she said adding the enrolment process should focus on rural and interior areas.
Sharma also released three posters and a video titled “My Vote My Country, My Vote not for sell” on the occasion.
In his introductory address, Ranjan Kumar Mohanty, State coordinator, Odisha Election Watch, said the campaign was part of the effort to create larger voter awareness to enhance democratic participation.
Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, Former DG of Police, also called upon voters to participate in the electoral process in greater numbers to make democracy meaningful. In this connection, he rued the fact that only 40% voters cast their votes in Mumbai, the financial capital of India, in the last general elections in 2009.
Tripathy welcomed the outcome of the Delhi elections, saying; “Voters of Delhi recently proved that money power and muscle power is not the only way to win the election. The people of Delhi taught a lesson to corrupt candidates by rejecting them.”
Sahadeb Sahoo, Former chief Secretary, Odisha , core Team Member of Odisha Election Watch, welcomed the apex court decision a few months ago allowing Indian voters the ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) option, which he said was a good sign in a democracy. “Many people cast their vote by pressing the NOTA button in the just concluded assembly elections in Delhi, MP, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh,” he pointed out.
Srinivasulu, of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), New Delhi, presented the consolidated analysis of financial and criminal background of candidates and elected representatives of India from 2004 to 2013, which shows that over 1/3rd of the MPs and MLAs have criminal cases against them, 75 MPs face serious criminal cases such as murder, dacoity, extortion while 45 MLAs and 2 MPs have charged with crimes against women. Out of these 45 MLAs, 6 MLAs have rape charges. He also emphasized that political parties are very crucial for good governance
Prof. Surya Narayan Mishra said that in 1984 in parliamentary elections, 64.16% of voters cast their votes, which is still a record. In the first general election in 1951, 153 political parties fielded their 2833 candidates for 401 Lok Sabha seats. But in 2009, 11252 candidates contested for 543 seats. “Instead of adopting the culture of politics, we should follow the politics of culture,” he said.
Prof. Reeta Ray, Eminent social scientist, said the young generation is extremely creative and they should not be misled. She also emphasized our democratic problem can be solved only through voting. “Instead of blaming the system, it is important to cast our vote,” she said.
Sarita Patel, NSS, Regional Centre, stated that NSS had been playing a pivotal role in creating awareness among the youths to cast vote. Voting is our right.
Baikunthanath Panigrahi, Former Director, Doordarshan Kendra said media always plays a major role in creating awareness among the people about electoral process. Bijay Mohanty, eminent cine artist, stated that the voting right of the people converts into good governance. Octogenarian cine artist Sarat Pujari stated that he has been voting since 1960s. Youth must come forward to cast their votes without any pressure.
Swati Tanmaya Mishra, State Programme Associate, Odisha Election Watch, proposed the vote of thanks.