In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, Wayanad, a rural district in Kerala marked a historic polling of 80.31 percent. A small credit for this could also be given to the relentless efforts made by Community Radio Mattoli (90.4 FM), the only community radio station in the district, in spreading the message of the Festival of Democracy (FoD).
Radio Mattoli was one of the partner community radio stations of the Festival of Democracy project – the brainchild of Election Commission of India and the UNESCO Chair on Community Media, University of Hyderabad aimed at spreading electoral literacy and voter education through Community Radios during the General Elections leading up to the 17th Lok Sabha Elections.
With an audience of around 2.5 lakhs, Radio Mattoli broadcast an array of programmes which included four radio spots, one quiz programme, twelve episodes, and four posters during the months of March and April, 2019. The aim was to promote and celebrate the democracy and the elections in India.
Team Mattoli produced a skit that focused on the history and evolution of democracy. Various aspects of democracy including the etymological meaning of the word democracy, the difference between democracy and other modes of administration was deeply touched upon through the skit. The skit also portrayed the evolution of India into a democratic nation including the formation of the Indian Constitution, and the history of the voting process in India.
Sallapam, a live phone-in quiz programme on Democracy saw the community members actively engaging with the radio station. Fifteen questions were asked and 23 callers participated in the live phone-in programme.
A series of expert interviews were conducted with a number of election officials like N.I. Shaju (SVEEP Nodal Officer) and A.R. Ajayakumar IAS (District Collector, Wayanad) to provide expert views and opinions on matters related to getting enrolled in the electoral roll, how to change polling station or, constituency, edit the mistakes in the voter identity card etc..
Another expert talk that was aired was on the use of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines. N.I. Shaju and Bindu S (Deputy Tahasildar, Mananthavady) introduced the VVPAT machine in detail and the background for introducing VVPAT, its use, importance, and functioning.
A few days before casting the polls, Radio Mattoli shifted its attention to airing shows that articulated the demands of the community members. Tribal people residing in Edamunda colony shared their voting experiences. The people spoke in their own dialect about the importance of voting and their expectations from the MP.
Fr. Bijo Karukappally, the station director, interviewed the nodal officer on tender voting, challenge voting, NRI, overseas citizens voting, postal ballot voting, service voting etc. A second round of interview with the nodal officer shed light on the various voting procedures, election officers like RO, ARO, General Observer, (from other states), expenditure officer, ERO etc. It also gave the listeners an idea on how to report and what action will be taken if someone is found guilty of compelling a voter to vote for a candidate or party, or the procedures if an election official violates model code of conduct.
On the day of voting, the radio station gave updates at the time of voting and the arrangements made for election officials and security forces at polling station.
Fr. Bijo Karukappally and team, Radio Mattoli 90.4 FM