Doctors, officers go all out to raise voter awareness

Doctors, officers go all out to raise voter awareness

Doctors, officers go all out to raise voter awareness

Residents of Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh will be in for a surprise if they consult a doctor after casting their votes – they will get a 25 per cent discount on the consultation fee.

Doctors associated with the Indian Medical Association in Rajnandgaon have agreed to provide 25 per cent concession in their fees between April 17 and 19, when patients will visit them after casting their votes.

Paediatricians, too, will extend the benefits to the parents if they have indelible ink mark on their fingers. Not to be left behind, government doctors, while writing their prescription, are reminding their patients to caste votes on April 17.

Doctors along with businessmen, traders, government employees, university students and even workers in the rural job scheme have been roped in for an Election Commission-backed scheme to improve voter participation.

In the 2009 polls, the turnout in Rajnandgaon was 59 per cent, while it was only 40 per cent in Maoist affected Mohla-Manpur, an Assembly segment under the Rajnandgaon Parliamentary constituency.

“We hope to improve the voting percentage this time, as we did in the last Assembly election,” said Priyanka Shukla, a young IAS officer who is spearheading the voter encouragement programme called “Pratigya” (People in Rajnandgaon Affirmatively Take Initiative to Generate Youth electoral Awareness).

The voting percentage shot up by more than 10 per cent here between the 2008 and 2013 Assembly polls, thanks to the initiative.

While in several urban centres, casting votes has fetched discount in shopping malls and movie theatres, Rajnandgaon had to think differently due to absence of malls.

“The only outlet for Domino's Pizza promised to give 17 per cent discount on April 17,” Shukla told Deccan Herald. Shukla and her team comprising officials who volunteered for the campaign after regular working hours ensured that thousands of men and women pledged to vote in the election. The campaign mainly focused on Mohla-Manpur Assembly segment.

During festivals, Shukla and her team reached out to villagers urging them to vote using innovative techniques to spread the message.