A Different Approach:
Differently-abled crowned as ‘Loktantra-Doot’ (Messengers of democracy)
District Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh took a novel initiative for the differently-abled voters in the district. Kinjal Singh, District Magistrate (DM) and District Election Officer (DEO), Sitapur, took this worth-appreciating enterprise with an aim to motivate the differently-abled to come out and vote during the General Elections to the Lok Sabha 2014.
“I realized that differently-abled people hesitate in coming out and vote. I wanted them to feel as much part of elections and democracy as any of us,” she said.
The strategy to involve the differently-abled was charted out. A painting/ poster competition of differently-abled was held at the district headquarters, which witnessed huge participation from all over the district. Titled ‘Mera mat bhidegalokTantrakonayaaayamaurmajbooti’ this competition witnessed a participation of above 4,000 differently-abled.
Many of them painted on the rights and duty of differently-abled. The posters showed the differently-abled reaching the booth and voting or a differently-abled smiling as he shows-off the mark on his finger with pride. These posters were then displayed at each polling booth of Sitapur district. The competition witnessed numerous differently-abled come forward and speak for democracy. “It feels so good that we have been specially invited by district administration. We are not less than anyone else and we will surely vote,” said Ramlal, who walks with an aid.
Then, a digital diary of all differently-abled voters was created. This diary maintained the detail of each differently-abled in the district. The BLO and the District Control room were in touch with them throughout the SVEEP campaigning till the poll day. They were motivated to exercise their right and with an aim to ensure that they all vote, the needful was provided by the district administration. It was also decided that there would be no-queue for the differently-abled. “I further zeroed down on families where both the spouses were differently-abled. I realized that if one spouse is disabled, the other takes the initiative and they can reach the polling booth and cast their vote. On the other hand, in case of both the spouses are specially-abled, they really need help,” added Kinjal Singh.
This was not all. Differently-abled were involved further in election process. About 3000 differently-abled persons were chosen from the district with each one representing their polling booth. Thence each one of the 3,000 polling booth in the district had a ‘Booth Ambassador’. They were crowned as the ‘Loktantra-doot’ and each of them was given an identity card. This added to their prestige and gave them immense confidence.
This was followed by a grand ceremony wherein all the 3,000 Loktantra-doot were brought on motorcycles, which were termed as ‘Loktantra- vahan’. The rally of motorcycles with the differently-abled as the pillion-rider drew maximum cheers from the crowd. Then, theLoktantra-doot were further motivated and inspired to turn into emissary for elections by Mr. Umesh Sinha, CEO, U.P. who asked them to ensure cent percent voting in their area. Each one of them was then given a mashal (lighted lamp), which was carried by each Lok-tantradoot to his/her polling booth.