Be it rustic troubadours like Sharda Sinha from Bihar or rock stars like Remo Fernandes from Goa, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is appointing "electoral icons" to inspire youngsters to exercise their vote in the March 3 assembly polls.
The formal appointment of renowned Goan musician Remo Fernandes as an icon for Goa Wednesday affirms the fact that the top election body in the country believes he can convince youths in the 18-20 age bracket to vote.
"If youngsters have a cynical approach to politicians, it needs to be addressed so they do not think so...Unless youngsters participate in it you cannot have a good democracy," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi said.
According to Quraishi, only 19 percent of young voters in the age bracket of 18 to 20 across India registered their names in the electoral rolls two years ago.
"It is now at 40 percent, but we want to increase it more with the help of such icons," Quraishi said.
Appointing folk singer Sharda Sinha as an icon in Bihar worked wonders, as more women came to the polling booths, said Quraishi.
"The situation improved so much in Bihar after we appointed Sharda Sinha as an icon. She started writing songs asking women to come out and vote. Things improved so much that women outnumbered men in voting during the last assembly polls there," Quraishi said.
The charm of Remo's music had worked on election commissioner H.S. Brahma decades ago when the 1975 batch Indian Administrative Service officer was a youngster.
"I am his fan since my college days," said Brahma.
Not just Brahma, Quraishi, who is known to strum a guitar himself, said he too was a fan of the Goan musician.
"I am a little bit of musician too. I myself am a great fan," said Quraishi.
Remo, 58, who is a Padma Shri award winner, won acclaim for songs which had a social relevance. His Bollywood chart topper "Humma-Humma" from the movie "Bombay" is still a hot favourite among fans.
"This is a great responsibility. All my life I have tried to take my responsibilities seriously. Will be happy to try and promote voting. Also the mental act of voting ethically and in a discerning way is very important," Remo said.
"Had we started doing something about corruption then, we would not have been fighting desperately to save this beautiful state of Goa," added Remo.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at [email protected])