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Red Panda official election mascot for Darjeeling Hills

Darjeeling : In a first of its kind, the Election Commission of India today unveiled in Darjeeling the election mascot for the 16th Lok Sabha Elections 2014. The rare and endangered Red Panda, synonymous with the Darjeeling hills, has been chosen as the election mascot for the region. The animated character will spread the message of free and fair voting to voters in Darjeeling and beyond. Keeping the diversified ethnic population in mind, the mascot has been designed and dressed in traditional attire of various communities living in Darjeeling district. A name has not been chosen for it yet, but is expected to be announced in a few days. Darjeeling DM cum Returning Officer Puneet Yadav unveiled the mascot at the Gorkha Ranga Mancha Bhawan in the presence of general observers Alkesh Kumar Sharma and Amlan Barua. Yadav said, "The Red Panda is the official election mascot for the Darjeeling Parliamentary constituency and has been approved by the ECI. 

In a historic first, the use of this mascot is also to create awareness about the region’s nature and wildlife, which is of utmost importance in showcasing Darjeeling district's identity.” Elaborating on the need for an official election mascot, the DM said, “The primary objective was to get maximum voters to exercise their franchise in this year’s elections. We must celebrate the ‘festival’ of democracy and voters’ focus must be on voting and not on currency notes and mass participation." Assistant Returning Officer cum Kalimpong SDO Radhika Aiyyar, who was the brain behind launching of the Red Panda mascot, said, "It is the convergence of the natural ecology and mass participation of voters that led to the idea behind choosing the Red Panda as the mascot.”

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