Will their voices be heard? 

Sakal Times
Monday, 22 April 2019

As Phase 3 of General Election 2019 takes place in Pune today, youngsters tell us what changes they expect from the leaders to build a better future for them and the country

‘We need opportunity and trust’
As a youngster and a voter, this election means a lot to me. This is a day that gives us the opportunity to choose the right candidate to lead our nation towards betterment. I think the result of Lok Sabha election 2019 is something to look forward to, as it is going to be an interesting outcome of whatever has happened in the last five years.  

Here, I would like to break down a few things for better understanding. As a youngster and the future of the nation, the most important thing for me is an impactful solution to terrorism and unemployment. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government promised to bring ‘acche din’ for the nation, but it was only a promise to be broken later.

Winning the 2014 election with a wide margin, the BJP government started well. We have very friendly relations with many powerful countries, thanks to Modi’s world tours. We have improved a lot as a nation as well, in terms of cleanliness and technical advancement, and we are trying to curb corruption too. 

A few historic law amendments were made under the governance of BJP, like giving rights to LGBTQ community. But on the other hand, secular India is getting fragmented. More than bringing about ‘acche din’ the government has been promoting Hinduism. I don’t want religion to live longer than humanity, I think nobody does. Another historic step of fighting back terrorism (the air strike at Balakot) was taken recently by the government, which of course was commendable, but what about the gundaraj growing right under our nose? 

Terrorism is a big problem, however, sometimes I feel ‘chowkidar is the real chor’. Why does a major terrorist attack take place right before a big political event? We do fight back, but never come up with a concrete solution. If I am the one who is going to live 50 more years of my life in this nation, I want to live fearlessly. Terrorism should not scare me, it’s the incapability of the government to protect its jawans on the border and commoners in the nation.

Unemployment is another major problem. As per a 2018 survey, 1.3 million youngsters seek jobs every month in India, which means 15.6 million a year. It’s a huge number, but even if the government can’t give everyone a job at least the results should be somewhat satisfactory. 

Indian youth is not aimless and hopeless. We can do many things which can generate much more jobs than 15.6 million a year with the help and support of the government. We need opportunity and trust. 
For me, the 2019 election is not about a fight amongst parties to win the chair, this is a chance for me to change my destiny and future.
— Anugraha Rao

‘I am looking forward to the verdict’
India, as we all know, is the largest democracy in the world. Election time in India is no less than a festival. This time, I am more enthusiastic as I have been observing the present government as well as the past one. 

Election 2019 is different from election 2014, mostly the way in which political parties have been making use of different mediums like social media, television and other non-media tools for campaigning. 

We will also see a lot of political unity (gathbandhan) and disunity nearer to the result day. For instance, during 2014 elections, Shiv Sena and BJP came together for political campaigning but right after the election they fell out and their so-called gathbandhan snapped. And now again, the same parties have come together for campaigning. Furthermore, all the Opposition parties have come together as a unit against the ruling Hindu Nationalist party.

As mentioned earlier, 2019 election is different because of the following reasons:
* Even though BJP is country’s No 1 party, it will be difficult for them to reach an impressive mark of 282 seats as they did in 2014.
* Due to demonetisation and constant attack over Rafale deal, Congress has gained some ground, yet it will have to struggle to gain a strong foothold against the ruling party. 
* Various regional parties will play a vital role that can decide the fate of the two major ruling parties of India.
* Further, coming to aggressive political advertising, it can be seen that it is not only social media marketing that is being used to reach out to potential voters — the youth, but also a lot of influencers, actors and sports personalities are being roped in by political parties to garner votes.
But predicting any election results is a mugs game. It never has been easy to sit and predict post poll combinations as no two elections are same. 
The dynamics of the 2019 elections are governed by various factors such as:
* Jobs — Initially, the Modi-led government promised jobs, which received a huge support from the youth in the 2014 General Election. But the government seems to have lost its plot.
* National security — Under the present administration, the security forces were given a free hand to deal with ceasefire violations at the border. However, many thought that the Pulwama attack, on February 14, was a ‘failure’ of the government. The air strike in Balakot, Pakistan, in retaliation to Pulwama attack, helped the BJP-led government win back some support. 
* Corruption — The present government made sure that the party does not suffer because of scams as its predecessor did in the past. Hence, Modi government introduced transparency in transactions by promoting e-transactions and e-tendering. Further, demonetisation by the government was an effort to curb black money. GST ensured everybody contributed to the taxes. These steps ensured to rule out any kind of scams, and strengthening the party’s image as a non-corrupt government.
There are a lot of interesting things happening this General Election and I am looking forward to the verdict by the masses.
— Poorna Kulkarni

‘I feel indifferent towards 2019 elections’
As a young voter, I feel indifferent towards 2019 elections. The young population of voters will be clearly one of the deciding factors in the forthcoming elections as youngsters make up a large section of the country’s population.

In this election, the most dangerous strand has been dragging the armed forces into the election narrative. With several retired generals jumping into the fray, the politicisation of the military became pronounced and this could become a problem in the future. 

Fighting against terrorism has become a campaigning agenda for the elections. The recent events — the terror attack in Pulwama, India’s air strike at Balakot, the capture of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and his eventual release — have helped the political entities to debate and garner support for their respective parties.  

Instead of resolving major issues like poverty, unemployment and corruption, political parties are focused on defaming each other. With PM Narendra Modi on the cover of the BJP Manifesto to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s solo show, leaders are now more focussed on their cult status. Party identities and ideologies have lost relevance as individual leaders are starting to take centre stage.
Leaders are fooling around by promising monetary support to people below the poverty line but the hypocrisy here is that the fundings are collected by looting the common man. The campaigning done by politicians are mostly sponsored by the topmost business houses of the country and they are given benefits after the party is elected.

Corruption continues to be one of the biggest problems of India and this menace will continue if the ruling government cannot create more jobs for its citizens. 

This isn’t an election of slogans like ‘Yes, we can’ or ‘achhe din’. It should be more like, ‘yes we will try and bring in some achhe din, if you elect us again’. Clearly, there is no fair campaigning done by the politicians and their main objective is to increase their vote banks.

In a country, where the youth population is largest, their voices are hardly heard. Their main concerns are better education and greater job opportunities. Can this election make a difference to their lives? 
— Sanjana Sharma

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