Young voters are set to play a key role in the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and realising their potential to influence the final outcome both the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress are aggressively wooing them.
A record 23.60 lakh electors would be eligible to exercise their right to vote for the first time in the Assembly polls scheduled for November 25.
Madhya Pradesh has a total of 4,65,07,121 electorates, including 2,20,01,741 women. Among them 23,59,304 are in the age group of 18-19 years, while 1,40,94,850 fall in the 20-29 category, sources in the Chief Electoral Office here said.
When put together, these two groups, totalling 1,64,54,154, form a large chunk of the total voter base in the State, which has a 230-member Assembly.
Keeping in mind the power of young voters, both BJP and Congress are pulling out all the stops to attract them.
In fact, the ruling party has been wooing them with a slew of schemes related to education and employment, the two most important issues concerning them.
"Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was aware of this issue and had organised Mukhyamantri Yuva Panchayat to announce a slew of measures related to employment and education to attract the youth towards the party," State BJP Media In-charge Hitesh Bajpai said.
The schemes included interest subsidy and bank guarantee on loan for setting up industrial units. Notable among them is 'Mukhyamantri Yuva Swarojgar Yojna', a self-employment scheme under which Government will give 5 % subsidy on interest and 100 % bank guarantee on a loan of Rs 25 lakh for setting up an industry.
For small-scale industries requiring an investment of Rs 50,000, Government will give 20% margin money, 100 % guarantee on bank loan and 5 % subsidy on interest, Bajpai said.
The scheme will motivate the youth to opt for self-employment in a big way, he said.
Besides, budding athletes would be given training in the field of water sports, martial arts and shooting so as to prepare them to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, Bajpai said.
The Congress, which is out of power in the State, once its stronghold, is also making all-out effort to win over the young minds, who dominate the technology-driven world.
"The Congress is considering to include a lot of attractive schemes in its manifesto for the youth. These include offering them laptops and tablets besides waiving of fee for appearing in the competitive examinations," State Congress Joint Spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said.
Besides, the party has launched a campaign on the social media, which is dominated by young voices, to attract first and second time voters in a big way.
The party is promising to create one lakh jobs for the youth if voted to power. Congress is also seeking to corner the BJP Government over the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) scam and corruption in Professional Examination Board, responsible for conducting examinations for various Government jobs.
In a careful decision, the Congress appointed Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia as head of its campaign committee in Madhya Pradesh. The party is also cashing in on the charisma of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, a youth icon, to swing voters in its favour.
"In comparison to Chouhan, we have two youth icons in our rank - Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia - to attract the youth towards the party," Chaturvedi added.