Poll for teachers' constituency on June 20

The prestigious Bangalore teachers’ constituency for the Legislative Council will go to polls on June 20.

As many as 34,040 teachers will be electing their next representative from eight candidates in the fray.
Three districts of Bangalore Rural, Urban and Ramanagara comprise the Bangalore teachers’ constituency.

While the number of registered voters does not indicate the actual number of teachers in the constituency, the Election Commission considers the present numbers of 34,000 voters as an improvement over the previous election.

According to CEO Anil Kumar Jha, the present registration has doubled in absolute figures compared with the previous electoral roll for the constituency.

Nonetheless, as per the present estimates by teachers, the enrolment percentage is a paltry 22.

According to teachers, over the past several years, the registration has been based upon the aspirants’ personal interest to get teachers enrolled in the voters’ list.

“It has generally been the aspirants who ensure that teachers are enrolled in the voters’ list. There has never been a proper enrolment drive by the Election Commission. As a result, it is only candidates who take details of the teachers and present documents to taluk offices for enrolment in the prescribed format,” Karnataka State High School Associate Masters Association president Manjunath said.

According to him, the number of eligible voters in Bangalore constituency may touch 1.5 lakh teachers, but due to lack of a proper enrolment, there are only 34,000 registered voters in the constituency.

The fight for the seat has received a boost with well-known academician Dr Gururaj Karjagi contesting as an independent against the incumbent JD(S) MLC Puttanna.

The BJP and the Congress have nominated M Neelaiah and B K Venkatesha, respectively.

In the last elections, Puttanna had narrowly defeated his opponent from BJP, Neelaiah.

It is said Puttanna has been quite active in the constituency by attending to teachers’ problems over the past decade. While Karjagi is a respected academician, he is a novice in politics.

Meanwhile, BJP candidate Neelaiah is said to be the dark horse in the race, as he lost to Puttanna narrowly in 2008.

Unlike the public glare which befalls candidates contesting in direct elections, aspirants to the MLC seat run their campaign through back channels by approaching associations and unions.

Endorsements by these associations and unions to individual candidates or political parties generally propel the next MLC from the teachers constituencies.

The candidates try to sway the support of teachers who are registered on the voters list and teaching in secondary schools, PU colleges, degree colleges, professional colleges and so on.

To be a registered voter, a teacher has to be active in the field for at least three of the last four years.
Despite a blanket ban on campaigning in educational institutions, it is said school headmasters and teachers accommodate the candidates to campaign inside the schools and colleges for a few minutes.

This apart, personal rapport of the candidates, who are primarily from the teaching field, plays a crucial role in garnering support for their candidature.

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