Elections 2019: 'NOTA, not an option' says ABVP
Student body exhorts young to cast a definite vote and not waffle in the neither-here-nor-there zone
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), right wing student body caravan trundles along - to the tune of 'agar NOTA nahi hota…' National Secretary or Rashtriya Mahamantri of the ABVP Ashish Chauhan, laughs at that. Chauhan is in Mumbai after touring the North East. "We are exhorting the young especially on the campus to vote in these elections. Our slogan is, 'Nation First, Voting Must' said Chauhan from the Dadar office of the ABVP, which is a whirl of activity. An interview:
On why NOTA is not an option…
We want people to say no to NOTA, as research has shown that even if NOTA is the highest polled option, it does not change the result. The candidate that gets the highest number of votes after the NOTA poll wins, so it is not a productive option. (NOTA stands for 'None of the above', and is a ballot option designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of candidates).
Do your must-vote campaigns actually result in bringing voters to the booth?
The ABVP is going full throttle on this one. Approximate figures show we have 90 crore voters, even if 10 per cent do not vote that is 9 crore votes not polled. Last time we had 60 per cent voting turnout, this time, we can hope for 70 per cent, but that still means 27 crore people not voting, which is mammoth and wasteful.
The North East still feels disconnected from India…
The geographical distance of these places, the harder they are accessibility wise is one reason for this. Yet, things are changing and ABVP initiatives like Students Experience in Inter State Living (SEIL) is bridging that. This government is also changing the policy paralysis that was present during the last government's tenure. PM Narendra Modi has made 39 visits to the region that has given the people a measure of reassurance. It is changing the narrative from one of dissonance to gradual assimilation, though I do not say there are no problems.
There is a belief that the ABVP will tell youth to vote for the BJP…
We are not telling people who to vote for.
It has been a fraught run-up to the election. There has been a comment that Jammu & Kashmir should have its own separate prime minister…
Those who make these comments must acknowledge the genocide that happened under their leadership, when Hindu Pandits were forced to flee the Valley. A nation cannot have two nishaan, two Vidhaan, two Pradhaans. One Constitution and the unity of India is paramount.
ABVP and other student organisations are a springboard to the national political platform…
That is not true every time, but we do have people who were part of ABVP now in active politics. Tejasvi Surya, 28, the BJP candidate for Bangalore south campaign, is one such example. This is a great festival of democracy. Youth has more power and a bigger voice than ever before. We see it in families where it is no longer just the family elder who makes decisions (though they are respected) but much more egalitarian. There are roughly 50 crore voters in the 18 to 35 age group and a substantial chunk of first-time voters. Make it count young India.
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