India is set to hold general elections and it is showing on the walls of Shillong.
Meghalaya state’s provincial capital in India’s northeast has come alive with state-sponsored graffiti, exhorting voters to cast their ballot.
Holding Indian elections is a logistical challenge. Polling this time in the country of more than a billion people would be held in nine phases, and some 815.4 million people are eligible to vote. Nearly a million polling stations would be set up across the country – ranging from hills and plains to desert – and an estimated 11 million personnel pressed into service to conduct the vote.
But equally challenging is to energise eligible voters to vote. More than 65 years after Indian independence and 15 general elections later, some do complain of election fatigue. Not many are happy with political parties, their leaders or their policies, and have lost hope that elections can change things around. Turnout therefore sometimes is low.
Election authorities, however, are taking no chances. In Shillong, they are wooing voters through graffiti under the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation programme.
Akshay Rout, Director General of Election Commission of India, says it is part of a targeted initiative to “bridge disconnect between youth and the system”.
“Our aim is maximum enrollment and maximum participation,” says Donny Malcolm Wallang, additional district commissioner, Shillong.
Elections in India are always a colourful affair. The graffiti are further adding to it.