Meet poll evangelist of Bengaluru Ananda Thirtha who helped enrol 30,000 young voters

Meet poll evangelist of Bengaluru Ananda Thirtha who helped enrol 30,000 young voters

Bengaluru: While the many political parties have entered the poll arena in Karnataka to contest for 224 Assembly seats, there is one person who is awakening the youths to enrol as voters and exercise their franchise.

Meet Ananda Thirtha, 38, a software professional, who quit his cosy job to strengthen the democracy in the country. Thirtha helped 30,000 young Bengalureans enrol as voters. This year alone, 10,000 youngsters made it to the voters’ list because of Thirtha’s effort.

Well, what is the source of inspiration for this young ‘election mascot’?

“I was inspired by a talk by Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy in December 2009 where he had highlighted the importance of voting in order to elect the right person. A few months later, I began with APS College in south Bengaluru, where I spoke to degree students about the need to register as voters. Though many of them filled the registration forms, not all submitted them as they couldn’t locate the BBMP office. Then I spoke to BBMP and began collecting filled forms and handing them over in bulk to the civic body,” told Thirtha to Times of India.

Since 2010, Thirtha has been visiting city colleges before elections and helping youngsters, who have just turned 18, enrolled as voters. He counsels the students to exercise their voting rights and even helps them fill up the application forms, attach the right documents and hands over the applications in bulk to the respective BBMP zonal offices.

Thirtha till 2014 used to work as a project manager at an IT services company. He, however, quit his job to devote more time for social work. Right now he is associated with two startups.

According to Thirtha, about 1.2 lakh students take admission in about 500-degree colleges in Bengaluru every year. But he says only 11,000 students get enrolled as voters every year in Bengaluru. He says that the main reason behind it is lack of awareness though many are willing to get registered as voters.

“Many fill incomplete forms or the supporting documents are missing, because of which they get rejected, for many election date is nothing but a holiday,” says Thirtha, who is also associated with citizen groups and forums like B.PAC. He, however, has taken this as a challenge and says that his effort is to fill these gaps and help students register as voters.

With help from friends, Thirtha has developed awareness videos, apps and web portals that help youths who are yet to be registered as voters.

Thirtha says in a report in Times of India that the Election Commission (EC) should chip in to launch more aggressive campaigns to register fresh voters. Right now he deals with only degree colleges, but he feels there is immense scope as medical, engineering, law and nursing colleges have not been covered.