Want to see people as enthusiastic for elections as they are for World Cup: Tendulkar

- August 23, 2023
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

Election Commission of India (ECI) unveils Sachin Tendulkar as its national icon to stem the decline in interest among urban youth voters

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday called upon young voters to exercise their franchise during elections. The former batting maestro, who is the only one to score 100 international centuries and holds record for most runs in Test and ODI cricket, was speaking at a function held to unveil him as Election Commission of India (ECI)’s National Icon ahead of a season of elections in the country.

As many as five states – Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana – will undergo elections in the upcoming December and January, while the country is slated to have general elections in April and May.

“I had said earlier that in the second innings of my life, I will continue to bat for India,” said Tendulkar at the event held at Akashwani Bhawan in the Capital.

“We are the largest democracy of the world and it is our prime responsibility to exercise our rights with due diligence. It is a responsibility which should not be ignored. I’ll only say, we should be aware of the elections.”

Tendulkar was made national icon of ECI because the commission noticed a lack of interest in voting among the urban youth. This fact was pointed out by the two election commissioners of India – Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel as well as by the Chief Election Commissioner, Rajiv Kumar.

The figures they quoted showed that while the turnout has improved from 45% in the first general elections, it is still not enough at 67% in 2019.

Skit being performed in the function at the Akashwani Bhawan

All three pointed out that the urban youth tends to stay away and that is the reason why Tendulkar was selected as its ambassador and icon.

Tendulkar appealed to youngsters.

“We say India is the youngest nation in the world in terms of average-age, but when it comes to voting, can we say that we are responsible nation in the world when it comes to voting. Honest answer would be, “No”.

“In October, the Cricket World Cup is starting. A number of my friends are talking about it, they are talking like, ‘this match is there on this day, so I am going to make myself available for that’. They have blocked the dates on their calendar. But I don’t hear such things during voting. I hope they say the same thing to me ahead of the day of voting.”

The 50-year-old also said people should not be disheartened by a candidate opposite to who they voted for comes to power.

“In the [cricket] dressing room, there are differences, opinions, we respect their views and opinions. Opinions differ, so long as the decision is taken for the betterment of the team, it doesn’t matter. If the team has to progress, I strongly believe we have to understand each other. When I started playing for India, I was only 16. We had players from different parts of the country, different religions, different castes, different cultures, they all were there in the dressing room. That was our strength because we were playing for a common cause, India’s win. That is what mattered to us.”