String of holidays has homestays brimming

It is not just the political parties that are busy this season. Homestays across the State are bustling with activity ahead of elections as there has been a surge in demand for bookings this week.

Wanting to make the best use of the Easter weekend, many people seem to have decided to give the elections a skip. As a result, a majority of homestays in popular tourist spots in the State are already booked to their full capacity, even as they are receiving endless phone calls for last-minute reservations.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Somashekar, who takes care of Eco Habitat, a homestay in Kodagu, said he was getting at least 20 to 30 queries every day for bookings this week.

“In general, there has been an increase in demand since the last week of March.
However, the demand has further increased this week. I see a lot of people who have distanced themselves from casting their vote.”

Ibrahim, owner of another homestay, Coorg Coffee Hills, said, “It is ironical. In fact, it is very sad that people rather consider this a holiday and go on trips instead of making use of the opportunity to vote for the right candidate.” 

He said at least 50 per cent of the homestays in Kodagu were already booked for April 17, the polling day. The situation is not limited to one place. Homestays in other parts of the State are also trying to manage the demand.

Priya of Trailroots, an organisation that manages homestays in several places in Karnataka, including Bandipur, Chikmagalur, Kemmanugundi and Shimoga, said: “We have demand for reservations in all these places. Reservations for this weekend in particular have gone up to 110 per cent. On the day of elections, too, a large number of people have made reservations.”No holiday for many

However, there is a section of professionals who have no choice but to juggle work and polls at the same time. For, many of the corporate establishments have not declared holiday on Thursday.

Some companies have given their employees an option of working from home, while others will just have to make it to work and find time to vote. “We will have to cast the vote and come back in time to begin the day’s work,” said Preethi N, an employee of a software firm in the City.

But such an arrangement is against the mandate of the law. Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said that irrespective of whether it was a government or a private firm, employees had to be given paid leave on the day of poll. 

The Representation of the People’s Act specifies that paid leave has to be given to “every person employed in any business, trade, industrial undertaking or any other establishment and entitled to vote at an election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State.”

Jha said that only in the case of essential services such as hospitals, for instance, the establishment may make arrangements for people to work in shifts to facilitate voting.

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