Ace table tennis player and Commonwealth medallist Manika Batra has been roped in by the Election Commission to spread awareness on voting in Delhi ahead of the general election, officials said Wednesday. A campaign in this regard will begin soon, they added. Seeking to promote awareness, the office of the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Tuesday also launched a Voter Awareness Forum (VAF), an informal forum for generating discussions and build awareness on the election process. "We had recently launched an awareness programme on EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail), as part of which we have installed kiosks at various public places across Delhi.
And, today this forum has been launched at 300 locations in the city, from state to district levels," Delhi CEO Ranbir Singh said at the launch of the forum at the CEO Office here. Later interacting with reporters, he said, top table tennis player Batra has been roped in by the Delhi CEO Office to raise awareness ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He also added that the final electoral roll of voters in Delhi will be published on January 18. "Yes, we have brought people on board to raise awareness. Manika Batra has been signed up as an ambassador, and she will be part of a drive that we will begin soon. She will be seen on posters, and be part of jingles and audio-visual campaign," he said.
A senior official from the CEO office said celebrated wrestler and Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar may also join the campaign team "as an in-principle agreement has already been reached" from the two sides, adding "we are also trying to get cricketer Rishabh Pant on-board". Asked about the allegations levelled by the AAP in December that names of 30 lakh voters in Delhi were struck off the electoral list, Singh said a complaint was received from the party in this regard through the Election Commission, and "we had examined it and we found the deletion of those names were genuine, as many voters had died or migrated". Family members are supposed to fill Form 7 to update the status after a voter's death, but many do not do that. So, we urge people to get their names added or details updated, he added. Singh also said his office was keen to partner with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to reach out to voters employed in the private sector.
Director of CII's Delhi State Office Subash Sapru was present during the programme. "We have already written to heads of various departments in the government, and we want the PSUs, NGOs, civil society and private sector to be part of this initiative. The heads of these organisations will be the chairman of the VAF in their respective places, and can hold meets and host activities to involve employees for raising awareness among them," he added. The Lok Sabha elections are due this year and Delhi has seven parliamentary constituencies - Chandni Chowk, North Delhi, South Delhi, West Delhi, East Delhi, North West Delhi an North East Delhi. The total number of electors in Delhi stands at 1,36,15,776 in the draft roll published by the Delhi CEO office on September 1 last year, and there was a decrease in the number of both male and female voters vis-a-vis the one published on October 23, 2017. The number of male, female and third gender electors are – 75,20,824; 60,94,115 and 837, respectively, according to the latest draft roll.
(With inputs from agencies.)