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Debutant voters give poll wish list -- farmers, women, jobs, freedom of expression

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Young and restless, anxious and ambitious, first time voters in urban are going into this election with a clear vision for the country's future and say they expect political leaders to focus on "real issues" such as jobs, women's safety and distress.

They may be disparate in their life goals and choices of career but are one in reflecting the angst of the young and their hopes for a better tomorrow, many of them saying the country's resources and energies must not be spent on things like monuments and statues.

At the cusp of their careers, many youth, from to Karnataka, also express their apprehensions about expressing themselves freely in public or on and want future lawmakers to change the narrative.

According to the Election Commission, 1.5 crore "young voters" in the 18-19 age group will exercise their franchise for the first time in the upcoming elections being held from April 11 to May 19.

One debutant voter is 20-year-old Kanika, an English Honours student at University's Miranda House.

"As youth, we are all concerned about jobs. The political leaders and lawmakers we elect should work on improving the employment scenario."

"But, more than that, I am concerned about my freedom of speech and expression, especially at a time when hyper-nationalism and jingoism are running high My mother tells me I should not write so freely on as it may hamper my job prospects," she said.

Kanika, who belongs to Haryana, is one of the tens of thousands of young middle class women who have stepped out of their homes to study. She lives in a paying guest facility in and alleges that safety of women is an issue that no political party has really addressed.

"As a woman, I still feel afraid to venture out," she said.

Hundreds of kilometres away, Madhumitha Priyadarshini, pursuing a bachelor's course at the in Bengaluru, has similar concerns and considers women's safety and distress priority issues.

"Every vote is valuable. I know the significance of elections. When I cast my vote, the farmers' issue will be the main deciding factor for me for electing the from my region," said the student who belongs to in

Madhumitha said cases of trolling and backlashes have made her hesitant about expressing her opinions on public issues on "I am always half-afraid... fearful at the thought that there might be repercussions."

Many of these first-timers dream about making it big in life and hope the political leaders they vote for will focus on "real issues" not "unreal ones.

"As a youth, I feel the was not needed at all, given the poverty in the country and the joblessness. That same Rs 3,000 crore could have been used for other projects that would have benefited the youth and the country," said Utkarsh Choubey, referring to the 182-metre in

The boy who is studying computer science at the in Bengaluru said many youngsters like him are "confused".

"We don't feel inspired by any particular party. All parties have their own issues," he said. Many other students echoed his sentiment about "monumental expenditures on monumental statues".

A good job, political stability and peaceful environment are on the wish-list of students from

"The socio-economic conditions of Jammu, and Ladakh are different so youths have different aspirations in these three regions. However, creation of well-paying jobs, political stability, and a peaceful, harmonious existence is certainly desirable for all of us," said Jammu girl Shreya Sharma, who is studying in Miranda House.

While many students across the country concurred that the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed, did weigh heavy on their minds, and had become part of their conversations, many said they were afraid to discuss the issue in public.

The backlash Kashmiri students faced after the incident is also a top of the mind issue.

A Kashmiri student from Pulwama, who studies at a leading university in Delhi, said on condition of anonymity, "We all want peace and harmony, as the youth of and of this country. For me, education and are two main factors, because jobs come only if we are educated and healthy."

According to Bengaluru-resident Bilal Shariff, "Political leaders and lawmakers must focus on real issues instead of using caste and creed planks to trigger emotional frenzy among people to garner votes."

The 19-year-old alleged that the freedom of expression has been "compromised" in many ways today, and the issue of women safety has "not been really addressed" by any political party.

Representation of truth in the media is of concern too, said some first-timers.

"The nexus between knowledge and power has always been there. But the extent of this issue definitely gets intensified during election time," Shreya said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 15 2019. 16:05 IST