Parties look to swing 7 lakh teen voters their way

Parties look to swing 7 lakh teen voters their way

Students creating awareness on the importance of voting. DH file photo

From making them rate the Modi administration’s performance to making sure their first vote is to re-elect Modi, arch-rivals BJP and Congress are racing against time to catch over seven lakh teens voting for the first time.

The Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and the BJP’s Yuva Morcha have drawn up campaigns to draw the teens out on voting day and press the lotus symbol.

The Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) and the Youth Congress are tapping into the first-time voters by highlights Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “failure” on job creation.  

The BJP has adopted a two-pronged approach for first-time voters. The ABVP is focusing on ensuring 100% voting by the teens. “In the last three months, we’ve gone to colleges and helped them register as voters, besides making them aware of why they should vote. In Bengaluru alone, we’ve achieved nearly 14,000 registrations,” ABVP national executive council member Prem Jain said.

The task of getting the teens to vote for Modi is anchored by the party’s Yuva Morcha. “Our campaign is called My First Vote for Modi,” BJP Yuva Morcha state general secretary Thammesh Gowda said. The saffron party is banking on the ‘pro-Modi undercurrent’. “In 2014, we had to take Modi’s name to the people. Now, everybody knows Modi and we need to make sure we convert as many votes as possible,” Gowda said.

The Congress’ youth outreach is based on the party’s national narrative on Modi’s failures, especially on creating two crore jobs every year. “We’re preparing a questionnaire for youngsters to rate the Modi government on A, B, C and D grades,” said NSUI Karnataka president Manjunatha H S, who heads an army of 2.3 lakh members.  

The Youth Congress is talking to teens on the importance of Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s pet Nyay scheme. Asked about the undercurrent the BJP is banking on, Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress president Basanagouda Badarli said: “The undercurrent is that of anger in the youth. We are tapping into that anger.”

This election, Karnataka has added 40.97 lakh new voters, of whom 7.12 lakh are first-timers (aged 18-19). The lowest number of teens are in Bangalore South, where the BJP has fielded 28-year-old Tejasvi Surya against Congress’ 64-year-old BK Hariprasad.