New Delhi: As the Election Commission battles urban and youth apathy towards voting, cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar was on Wednesday appointed as a “national icon” of the poll panel to encourage greater voter participation in elections.

Tendulkar was made the national icon as the EC gears up to hold assembly polls in five states sometime in October-November and Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Tendulkar and the poll panel. As part of the three-year agreement, the cricketer will spread voter awareness.

Addressing the gathering, Tendulkar said India is the biggest democracy in the world and it is our prime responsibility to exercise our voting rights.

He reminded the gathering that he had said that in his second innings, he will continue to bat for India.

Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey said the “pitch” on which EC plays to encourage voters to come out and exercise their franchise is “tough”. But he expressed confidence that Tendulkar will come out with flying colours.

Election Commissioner Arun Goel said the voter turnout was the maximum at 67 per cent in the 2019 LS polls. He said more needs to be achieved in enhancing voter turnout.

He said in spite of extending the best of facilities at polling stations for voters, some pockets have seen poor voter turnout.

The poll panel has recognised urban and youth apathy as one of the prime reasons for poor voter turnout in certain cities.

Last year, the Commission had recognised actor Pankaj Tripathi as a national icon. Earlier, during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, stalwarts such as MS Dhoni, Aamir Khan and Mary Kom had been the EC’s national icons. PTI

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