Guwahati: Four prominent personalities of Assam, including cricketer and first-time voter Riyan Parag, were on Friday chosen as ‘icons’ to encourage people to exercise their franchise during the upcoming assembly polls, Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade said.

Besides Parag who plays for the team Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, actor Kopil Bora, singer Anindita Paul and para- cyclist Rakesh Banik were selected as ‘icons’ to motivate voters, the CEO said.

The official also unveiled two mascots, ‘Bohag’ and ‘Bohagi’, and released a theme song as part of the Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP).

Several infotainment initiatives will be undertaken to increase participation of people in the electoral process, he said at a press conference.

“The SVEEP target is to increase the voting percentage to more than 85 per cent, particularly in polling stations where it was less than the targeted percentage in the last elections.

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“It will be a challenging task this time as it is being held against the backdrop of COVID-19 and there is need for increased awareness programmes to higlight the protocols under which polling will be held, though the primary focus is to bring more voters to booths,” the CEO said.

Use of social media, electronic and print media, live performances like street plays and mob flash will also be taken up to attract new voters, he added.

The mascots have been adopted as the three-phase polls are being held during ‘Bohag’, the most loved season of the Assamese calendar during which the state’s important festival Rongali Bihu is celebrated, the CEO said.

“Bohag-Bohagi will motivate the people of Assam to come forward, exercise their right to vote and celebrate Bohag Bihu with gaiety as they participate in building a stronger, fair and safe democracy,” Khade said.

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The mascots, designed by IIM graduate K Sai Gowthami, are a balanced fusion of Assams glorious past, progressive present and a promising future, the official said.

“Both Bohag and Bohagi personify the energy of a young and vibrant Assam- they are dutiful, responsible human beings and empowered citizens who are willing to exercise their right to vote,” the CEO said.

The theme song, “It is the time for election; it is your time to vote…”, will be played all over the state to motivate voters.

The District Election Officers of Legislative Assembly Constituencies (LACs) are also holding workshops and awareness camps to educate the voters on ethical voting, he said.

“We are undertaking these initiatives to ensure ethical, safe, free and fair elections, and for increasing the voting percentage”, Khade said.

Assemble elections in the northeastern state will be held on March 27, April 1 and April 6.

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