The auspicious period of 'Navratras' in the Hindu religious calendar is ensuring greater number of people flocking to temples.
From temples to sweets shops to other shops - everyone seems to be doing their bit to urge Chandigarh's over 600,000 voters to exercise their franchise April 10 when election to the lone Lok Sabha seat from this union territory takes place.
In the Sector 24 temple, the general notice put up on the notice board by the temple management too urges the devotees to cast their vote. In the Sector 46 temple, a pamphlet is being distributed along with the 'prasad', asking people to treat their vote not as a right but as a duty.
Other temples too are urging people to vote.
At least two prominent sweets shop chains, which have a number of outlets in and around the city, are pasting stickers on boxes of sweets and even gift-wrapped items urging voters to cast their vote.
"We are putting up stickers on our sweets boxes to explain the importance of voting. We will offer discount on voting day also," said Neeraj Bajaj, owner of leading sweets shop Sindhi Sweets.
Other shops are chipping in by offering discount to people who cast their vote and want to buy things. From dress material to shoes to cosmetics to department stores - a number of them are offering discounts.
Even the state-run hotels like Mountview, Shivalikview and Parkview are offering discount ranging from 20 to 35 percent April 10 and 11.
Out of the over 600,000 voters, nearly 46 percent voters are women in the city.
It is for the first time in Chandigarh that three out of the four contestants from major political parties are women.
Sitting MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, who was forced to resign as railway minister in May last year after his nephew Vijay Singla was arrested by the CBI after he took a Rs.90-lakh bribe from a senior railway officer to get him a lucrative posting, is being challenged by three women candidates - a first in Chandigarh.
The BJP has fielded actress Kirron Kher, 58, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate is actress and former Miss India Gul Panag, 35. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded woman candidate Jannat Jahan, 34.
Bansal, 64, has been elected MP from here in 1991, 1999, 2004 and 2009.
Nearly 60 percent of the Chandigarh voters are in the 18-40 years age group.
In the 2009 general elections, nearly 65 percent votes were cast in Chandigarh. In 2004, only about 50 percent had come out to vote.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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