Shubman Gill named Punjab ‘state icon’ for Lok Sabha polls to engage in awareness campaigns

In a recent move to boost voter awareness and turnout, the Election Commission has appointed Indian cricket sensation, Shubman Gill, as Punjab’s ‘state icon’ for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. The decision aims to utilize the influence of the cricket star to spearhead voter awareness initiatives, ultimately striving to surpass the state’s previous voting percentages.

Punjab recorded a voter turnout of 65.96% across its 13 constituencies in the 2019 general elections. The Election Commission, intent on improving this statistic, has set an ambitious target of surpassing 70% in the upcoming polls, encapsulated in their slogan “Is Vaar 70 Paar.” The Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab’s office confirmed Gill’s new designation as state icon, a significant role in the mission to elevate electoral engagement within the state.

The Chief Electoral Officer’s enthusiasm bled through social media as they welcomed Shubman Gill to his new role. They effusively tweeted, “Welcoming Shubman Gill as State Icon of Punjab. From pitching runs on the cricket field to pitching for high Voter Turnout in Lok Sabha Election 2024,” signaling confidence that the cricket star’s involvement would be a game-changer in the electoral process.

In preparation for the upcoming elections, speculated to be scheduled for April and May, Sibin C, the Chief Electoral Officer, convened with Punjab’s deputy commissioners. Sibin’s discussions laid out strategies to target areas that had previously seen lower voter turnouts. It’s anticipated that the campaigns Gill will champion, alongside appeals he’s set to make to the electorate, will galvanize potential voters, spurring them to exercise their democratic right.

The young cricketer’s role aligns with steps taken by other influential figures in Punjab to drive up electoral participation. Among them is popular Punjabi singer Tarsem Jassar, who had formerly taken up the mantle of ‘state icon’ and contributed to voter engagement efforts.

At the time of his appointment, Gill is actively representing India in the Test series against England, where his cricketing prowess has been on full display. The sportsman has been in excellent form, contributing significantly to the team with a century and a critical 91-run inning while batting at the number three position. Shubman’s on-field success and appeal, particularly among the youth, hold great promise for his off-field mission of increasing voter participation.

The Election Commission’s strategy of enlisting cricket stars for electoral advocacy is not a new tactic. Preceding Gill’s role as Punjab’s state icon, cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar was brought on board as the National icon for promoting voter awareness. This collaboration was sealed with a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The Press Information Bureau relayed the news, stating, “Cricket legend and Bharat Ratna awardee Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar today began a new innings – as the ‘National Icon’ for voter awareness and education for the Election Commission of India.”

At a celebratory event held in Akashvani Rang Bhavan, New Delhi, the MoU was signed in the presence of the Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Rajiv Kumar and his fellow Election Commissioners Mr. Anup Chandra Pandey and Mr. Arun Goel. Much like Sachin’s enduring impact on the cricket field, his involvement in voter education had the potential to leave a lasting influence on the foundational exercise of democracy.

With the Election Commission’s strategic deployment of popular public figures as icons for voter awareness, the hope is that future elections will not only see higher turnouts but also foster a more informed and engaged electorate. As for Shubman Gill, the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be another arena where his contributions can have an impactful and resonant influence beyond the boundaries of a cricket pitch.

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