Lack of voter data hampers campaign

Many prospective candidates for BBMP elections hire services of PR firms

Surprised? It is because there is no ward-specific database of contact details of voters available with either the government or with private agencies like telephone service providers.

In the city of apartment complexes, no candidate can dream of physically reaching each and every voter. The usual practice is to send SMSes and e-mails besides taking out padayatras, to woo voters.

With Bangalore Mahanagara Palike becoming ‘Bruhat,’ politicians are finding it even more difficult to reach out to people. The wards have gone up from 100 to 198 with seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council besides 110 villages coming under the purview of BBMP.

In the previous Assembly and Parliamentary elections, candidates had hired the services of public relation firms to reach a larger sections of voters through SMSes and e-mails. PR firms usually collect or purchase the data from private telephone companies.
The BBMP, in its new avatar, is going for the polls for the first time with 198 wards. These wards did not have geographical identity till recently. So it has become difficult to identify voters in a particular ward.

Sampath, an aspirant of a Congress ticket to contest from Adugodi ward, has hired the services of a PR firm to campaign. “I don’t have contact details of voters in the ward. I am depending on a PR firm for that,” he said.

About 50 Bangalore-based PR firms are offering services of SMS and e-mail campaigns. One such company is Voicecomm. Ravishankar Bettampady, director of the company, said, “It is difficult to identify voters of a specific ward. Many people obtain cellphone connections in one area but reside elsewhere.”

John G of P2M Infotech, which has been in the field for a decade, does not boast of 100 per cent ward-wise database. “The database of the company may cover up to 80 per cent,” he said.

Interestingly, a few prospective candidates had made efforts to develop their own database. N Lakshmikantha, aspiring to contest from Yediyur ward on a BJP ticket, possesses a database of 2,000 voters. “Over the last 15 months, I have collected the data. Today, I greeted my prospective voters on the eve of Sankranti, through SMS,” he said.

Many prospective candidates in the BBMP elections have begun contacting PR firms to develop websites to host their data. On an average the cost is Rs 5,000. PR firms charge at the rate of 10 to 15 paise per SMS and voice SMS costs around 40 paise.
DH News Service

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