Nitesh R Pradhan
Gangtok, 8 April: As the election reaches its fever pitch with an ongoing slugfest between political parties to one upmanship among various candidates, the first time voters forming a large chunk of the electorate are going through thier own battle in ideas and perception to decode and make a decision for excersising thier franchise for the first time. These voters falling between the age group of 18 to 25 are young with their hopes tied up the 2019 elections.
Students form a large majority of them most of who have benefited from free education policy of the government till college.
Many will be excersing their franchise for the first time, these group are affected by what they experience and how they perceive our political discourse in Sikkim.
Stella Gurung, a college student hailing from Namchi while expressing her excitement for her first vote has stated that all round development of students in not just academics but also honing thier inbuilt skills and talents through proper policies should be the focus of the new government.
Similarly another college student from Gangtok, Wangchuk Sherpa says, ” I am very excited at the same time nervous to cast my vote as my decision is going to be counted in formation of the government.”
He adds that suicide rate and unemployment problem in Sikkim is of concern which needs to be addressed by the forthcoming government.
Nirmal Sharma, Treasurer, Student’s Representative Council, Government College, Burtuk says that while youths are courted by all political parties in elections, the youths need to take charge and make thier decision felt.
“Not just academics but progress and encouragement of youths in all feilds including sports should be an insintric policy of future governments,” he states.
Likewise another student, Pabitra Rai is of the opinion that skill development of our students in both qualitative and quantitative way should be pursued.
Furthermore, she adds that with the advancement of the information world, Sikkim also needs to move in that direvtion swiftly so that our young pool of talents get adequate opportunity in the digital sector which is one of the biggest industries of the world.
With most students having a good command over the English language many students felt that next government should focus more on IT sector which not just gives sustainable employment but also revenue to the state.
Abel Gurung, another young student hailing from Daramdin stressing on need for leaders to connect with the pulse of what youths want has said that many also want to take an active part in the political process.
He however adds that youths don’t join politics due to the bad image and performances of netas across the political spectrum.
“Politics itself is not bad but the players are,” he stressed.
It has been seen that youths are often relegated to the role of sloganeering and have also been misused by parties as “muscle power” while the older generation keeps enjoying the perks of power.
With many fresh candidates trying thier luck this election, the students are hopeful of more youth policies being on the centre of agenda so that the fresh approach this generation brings gets reflected in the policies and programs the government charts.
Bharati Sharma, Beauty queen( 2nd runners up, Miss Sikkim) and student, Nar Bahadur Degree College is of the opinion that the next government should give a proper thrust on entreprenuership which can create lots of self employment opportunities.
For many young voters candidates are more important than any other criteria.
Sidharth Pradhan, Student, Sikkim Manipal Institute says that a candidate has to appeal to the voters particularly the youth.
“My first vote is going for the right candidate,” he hopes.