ANI Photo | “Come out in large numbers and…”: Spritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar urges citizens to exercise their franchise

Amid the sound and fury from campaign trails, with the contesting leaders of the ruling and Opposition coalitions going at each other ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar urged people on Friday to come out in record numbers and exercise their franchise.
The spiritual guru, who heads the Art of Living Foundation, called on the people to enlist their participation in the elections in the spirit of celebration just as they would in a festival.
Speaking to ANI on Friday, Sri Sri Ravishankar said, “I urge the people to come forward and be a part of the country’s journey towards development. They should consider the upcoming elections as a festival. We should not always regret or lament the flaws (in the country’s electoral system). It is often seen that people with a positive and progressive frame of mind don’t even vote. I earnestly appeal to everyone out there to come out in large numbers and vote. It is a (democratic) responsibility. The people, alone, decide the outcome of elections.”
He added that while the people, in a democracy, reserve the right to decide whom to cast their vote for, the basic idea was for them to come out and enlist their participation and involvement in the elections.
“We cannot ask people who to vote for, all we can do is ask them to vote…for the future and welfare of the country and decide on an able leader for the country,” he added.
The spiritual leader said ‘freebies’ and ‘money’ should not decide the outcome of elections.
“Let money or freebies not influence your vote. If we continue to move at the pace with which we are moving forward, our country will definitely become the third-largest economy in the world. However, if there is a break in the process, then it will be difficult,” Sri Sri Ravishankar added.
The seven-phased general elections to 543 seats in the Lok Sabha are scheduled to take place from April 19 to June 1, this year. The polling across the country will be conducted over seven phases, with the counting of votes scheduled for June 4.
About 970 million people, out of a total population of 1.44 billion, are eligible to enlist their participation in the elections this year.
The legislative assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Sikkim will coincide with the general elections. Bye-elections to 35 assembly seats across 16 states will also be held at the same time

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