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Thiruvananthapuram gears up for an inclusive general election

With Lok Sabha elections round the corner, all state governments are working in close partnership with the electoral officers in their states to ensure that disabled people vote with minimum hassles. Disability rights groups in Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala capital, are using this heightened focus to demand greater focus on their needs. They say they will only vote for the party that fulfils the promises made to the community.

Like in other states, here too there are pick up and drop off services on voting day. Ambulances, government and private vehicles have been set aside for this. Authorities have also promised companions for visually impaired voters so they have assistance throughout. Wheelchair ramps will also be provided at all polling booths.

Priyanka G, Assistant Collector, Thiruvananthapuram district has said that a survey was also conducted to find out the exact number of disabled people who are eligible to vote.

Sindhu Sudevan, President, All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF) in Thiruvananthapuram has commended the efforts taken this year.

This time, I believe things will be better from before. We even had panchayat authorities coming and asking us if we want pick up and drop facilities. This has never been done before. Usually, party workers help us to get to polling booths. But then, we are forced to vote for their party. - Sindhu Sudevan, President, All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation, Thiruvananthapuram

People with disabilities also highlight the importance of voting for parties that work towards empowering them. Kerala's ruling Communist Party had promised many programmes and schemes for people with disabilities like Kaivalya, which enables them to start their own businesses. Many people say they are yet to see the benefits.

Rajesh S, a wheelchair user from Thiruvanathapuram hopes that the government that takes charge will work closely with the disabled community.

"We want a government that will understand the needs and requirements of people with disabilities and work closely with us. They must also be able to safeguard our interests. I voted last year. This year, I'am hopeful of accessible elections because government officials have been taking initiatives to promote accessibility in polling booths across Thiruvananthapuram, he says.

ALSO READ: Accessibility observers to lend a helping hand to disabled voters in 2019 general elections

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