It is the day of India’s mega festival as Goans cast their votes today. A chunky part of this population is first time voters who will play a crucial role. NT BUZZ gets a feel of what they are looking for in these elections
Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ
They might be casual in their attitude, but they are unapologetic. Often we categorise the youth as a lot that’s irresponsible, and thus they are also the ones who are the misunderstood segment of our population. But, have a conversation with them about politics and current issues, and you will realise that the youngsters in Goa today are smart, aware, and have their opinion; one that most people and politicians don’t care about or work for.
While the 18th or 21st birthday is a day for celebration, today marks the coming of age for many first time voters – who have been waiting for this day anxiously. And today when 4, 69, 143 voters go to cast their vote; it will be one that has several factors taken into consideration. These include 29,307 first time voters between the age group of 18-19 years, 2, 00,783 voters between 20 – 29 years and 2, 39,053 voters between the age group of 30- 39 years.
The vote that matters
The first time voters know what they want and they will vote keeping several factors in mind. While employment and education are factors that most youth will generally have on the top of the list, there are several other criteria that could work for in favour or against some candidates.
“A clean image, with no past record of corruption and crime, is what I am considering along with capability of doing work. The potential of the candidate is more important than a party,” says Bittu Sharma, from Taleigao.
A business student from Thivim, Arilda D’Souza says that her vote will be for the candidate that is suitable in the interest of the nation. “He should lead, taking opinions of all into consideration and be a person who will put the people before himself,” she says.
People in general feel that they get to see their politicians only at the time of elections and this is what will also affect votes of first time voters. “I will vote for a person who will bring change and not just overlook situations and neglect his people,” Milucia De Souza says before adding that, she will be casting her vote for unity among the people, along with better roads and more job opportunities.
First time voters aren’t ignorant about political affairs in the state and country. And though they haven’t voted before today, they certainly have observed much in the last five years. A mass communication student, Winifred Norris states that she will vote for changes that the party as a whole will make to the state, and one that is supportive to suggestions of the public.
Another youth whose family has a preference that is generally adhered too, tells us that he will go against his family to cast his vote. Not wanting to mention his name, he says: “While initially I wanted to use NOTA (None Of The Above) as an option, I realised that using NOTA would be wasted. Instead, I have now decided to vote for a party that I feel will deliver. We youth can’t be fooled and taken for granted anymore,” he says.
Thorough decision making
No big decision is easy to make, especially when politics comes in all hues and colours. While many people are still deciding, or will make up their minds when they look at the EVM machine, the task is much tougher for the first time voters. Many of them say that their votes will make a difference, but also say that as first time voters they aren’t regarded as much as the others, especially when politicians go on campaigns.
However, while many first time voters are adamant and will decide on their own, not letting anyone or anything influence them, they do admit that the decision isn’t easy at all. Sharma says: “You rely on information to make a decision, and information that is not neutral through media cannot be considered while deciding whom to vote for,” he says.
D’Souza says that it’s tough to choose a clean candidate as everyone has turned greedy and selfish and joining politics most of the times is for ulterior motives. “Being a first time voter, it isn’t going to be easy, as it is difficult to find people who are honest and willing to serve selflessly,” she says.
For Norris though it’s not as difficult to decide whom to vote for or which party to choose, as there is sufficient information available, track record and happenings that make it easy to pick a candidate or choose the best party. “While the potential of the party is to be kept in mind, I would like the party that comes to power to keep its promises and allow freedom of speech to be exercised without interference and coercion,” she says.
And while many citizens who believe democracy is under threat will go to cast their vote and yet believe there will be no change, and that every party or politician will succumb to corruption, etc, today the youth and first time voters will exhort power and confidence for the betterment of Goa and ultimately of India.