The much awaited polling day in Nagpur was conducted with ease. A good voter turnout, peaceful atmosphere, enthusiasm amongst voters – was the sentiment that sums up Nagpur’s poll-day scenario. The city saw many first-time young voters who flaunted their ink mark on social media platforms. But what also did rounds of the social media networking sites were the pictures and stories of city voters who cast their vote against all odds.
One such picture that went viral and was shared amongst the many was of Vishwas Kulkarni’s, who is touted to be the newfound poster boy of being an ideal citizen.
Kulkarni, a retired personnel, had met with an accident earlier this year. Despite being in a critical condition post a collarbone surgery for several days, he chose to appear at the polling booth on his stretcher. He paid for the ambulance from his own pocket that took him to-and-fro his polling centre.
Vishwas Kulkarni casting his vote despite being stretcher-bound.
Ashutosh Mundhada, a young entrepreneur and founder of a start-up, expressed his concern about the lack of facilities for older people at the polling centers. “The facilities were certainly inadequate but that did not bog down the spirit of the people. I saw many civilians helping and assisting senior citizens and physically-challenged persons in getting the pre-voting formalities done. The atmosphere was extremely positive and people seemed enthusiastic about casting their votes”
Senior citizens were helped by the police officers stationed at the booths.
Physically-challenged persons were seen climbing stairs at booths that did not hoist a ramp.
Braving the sun with a smile as he walked towards the polling booth was 100-year-old senior RSS worker, Nathmama Kale. Kale’s granddaughter, Aparna tweeted his photo at the polling booth which earned applause many.
100-year-old Nathmama Kale is probably the oldest voter from Nagpur.
While for older adults like Kale, the walk to booth might be a feat, but for some like Ashish Sharma, flying across the globe just to cast his vote was nothing less than an achievement in itself. The 32-year-old sales professional who works in New York flew to Nagpur just to vote for world’s largest democracy.
Quiz him as to what made him fly 17,000kms just to vote and he explains, “It’s not about just one vote. I know it won’t make a difference. My main intention is to motivate al the Indians staying abroad to come and vote. Imagine what a big difference can be made if thousands of Indians living just in the United States vote.”
World's shortest person, Jyoti Amge at the polling booth.
Many others like Ashish, who have moved out of Nagpur for personal and professional reasons, were seen making their way back to the city to vote. 24-year-old Manali Kulkarni who works for an e-commerce MNC flew from Bengaluru a night prior to the voting day. Her spirits did not deter when her leave application was unapproved. She instead chose to work-from-home and still make it to her hometown just in time to vote. “We are living in a time where we have to stand up for ourselves and fight for our opinions to be heard. In such a time, voting is the biggest boon that democracy gives us, it’s our chance to be heard. I felt it was important for me to vote in order to make sure that my vote and my political opinion doesn’t remain unheard.”
Physically-challenged lady being escorted by a civilian.
In September 2018, a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court had section 377 that criminalized homosexuality done away with. Many, especially the LGBTQ+ community, were looking forward to a charter of rights for the community in the political parties’ manifesto. Anand Chandrani, chairman of Sarathi Trust, said, “It is sad but true. BJP’s manifesto does not speak about LGBTQ+ community. Congress and CPI parties have shown their support but the rights mentioned in their charter aren’t as extensive as we had hoped for it to be. I hope the 25 lakh people who form a part of the community vote responsibly.”
Nikunj Joshi, CEO of Sarathi Trust, flaunting his voting ink.
Following Anand’s appeal, the turnout of the voters from the community was higher than the last time. However, he himself could not cast his vote as his name was missing from the list. While speaking to TOI, he said, “My mother’s name was there but mine was missing. I tried to argue but booth officers said many names were missing and they could do nothing about it.” Not just Chandrani, but many others too faced the same kind of woe.
Regardless of many challenges faced, the turnout of voters from Nagpur stood around 58%. The percentage is nearly the same as that of 2014 parliamentary elections.
Quotes sourced: timesofindia