LokSabha 2019: City students from Vidarbha rue having missed the chance to vote

Pranita Roy
Friday, 12 April 2019

Bodhi Ramteke, who belongs to Gadchiroli, stayed back in his hostel on Thursday though it was polling day for his region. “My exams will be starting from April 25. It takes 25 hours to reach my home in Gadchiroli. This means my five days will be occupied in travelling and getting home.” 

PUNE: Distance, examination and non-feasible commuting facilities didn’t allow youths in Pune to go home in Vidarbha region to vote.  The region went for polling in the first phase of Lok Sabha Election 2019 on Thursday.

 

The polling in Maharashtra began in Wardha, Ramtek, Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondia, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur and Yavatmal-Washim.

Bodhi Ramteke, who belongs to Gadchiroli, stayed back in his hostel on Thursday though it was polling day for his region. “My exams will be starting from April 25. It takes 25 hours to reach my home in Gadchiroli. This means my five days will be occupied in travelling and getting home.”

He would have had to reach one day earlier as polling in naxal-affected areas usually gets over by 3 pm. The travel fare is also expensive due to the elections.

“I realise the responsibility of voting and the area I belong to needs a lot of development, which can happen only if youngsters like me vote,” Ramteke, a third year law student, admitted. “If commuting was feasible and I had a chance to go home and return in a day or two, I would have still tried,” he said.

Similarly, engineering student Palash Walde has to appear for practical exams on Friday. With no direct train to his hometown Chandrapur, he was unable to vote.

For journalism student Nikhil Borkar, more than exam dates, it was the high bus fare to Chandrapur that discouraged him from going back home to vote.

“My college did consider the polling dates and had asked if I wanted to go. Later, I realised that the bus ticket fare had become very expensive,” he said.

Pratik Upadhyay from Washim had to appear for his botany exam on Thursday. “I feel institutions should give holiday of at least 10 days during elections, so that students can vote by travelling to their respective regions. It will also not affect studies,” said Upadhyay.

Deepak Chatap, a final year law student from Chandrapur, stated that he was to press None of the Above (NOTA) anyway, hence amidst unaffordable travel cost, hectic journey, examination Chatap chose to stay back in Pune.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Alternative voting system, like postal ballot facility would have enabled students like him to vote, Ramteke said. Walde proposed electronic or online voting system for students away from home.

THE REASONS
- Date for examinations clashing with election date.
- High bus fare due to high demand.
- Long train journey, or multiple train changes, which result in lengthy travel time.
- Loss of preparation time for exams.

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