More spending, leg work for candidates in outer B'luru

Rustic realities

More spending, leg work for candidates in outer B'luru

 Parties and candidates for the BBMP elections have adopted various methods to campaign. But one common and time-tested method which all the candidates are following is door-to-door campaigning.

Be it in Dasarahalli, Jayanagar or HBR Layout, the candidates have no choice but to trek and reach out to people, seeking votes. This is in addition to the use of social media and phone messages soliciting votes.

However, the cost of campaigning differs between the wards of central Bengaluru and the wards on the fringes of Bengaluru, which earlier had the status of city municipal council (CMC) or village. Going by campaign managers, candidates in the erstwhile CMC areas and villages have been forced to spend more money than the candidates in the heart of the City.

Reason? Voters, by and large, in the newly added areas have to be ‘lured’ to vote. But the educated class, in the politicians’ parlance the official class, is indifferent to elections. Even those who exercise their franchise want the politicians to ‘walk the talk’.

The State Election Commission has fixed a cap of Rs five lakh on spending by candidates.
But like in any election, the rule is only observed in the breach. Politicians confess that in areas of central Bengaluru like Jayanagar, Malleswaram or Vijayanagar, candidates may have to spend not less than Rs one crore. However, those in the newly added areas, which are still underdeveloped, candidates may have to spend not less than Rs two more. But none is willing to be named when they talk about the expenditure.

Ravishankar, husband of former corporator Yashoda of Chowdeshwari ward in Yelahanka, is busy campaigning for the BJP. This time, Yashoda is unwilling to contest. Hence, BJP MLA S R Vishwanath’s wife Vanisri is all set to be fielded.

Ravishankar says that the candidate along with the booth managers of the party would have to visit not less than 20,000 houses in the ward. “We have many independent houses, apartments and a good number of lower middle class people, who are labourers living in rented houses. So, we have adopted all methods to reach voters. While poor people expect candidates to meet them personally, the educated class demands better civic amenities or they are indifferent to polls,” he said.

He says that social media may help in reaching just 10 per cent of the total voters in areas like Yelahanka.

Holding public rallies, meetings does not help much in improving the prospects of candidates, Ravishankar said. 

S T Somashekar, Congress MLA from Yeshwantpur, says that campaigning in the newly added areas of the city is like facing elections in rural areas. “Nearly 10 to 15 Assembly constituencies in Bengaluru are yet to be developed in terms of infrastructure facilities. Here, people expect candidates to meet them in person. The cost of campaigning is also high here,” he points out.

Former corporator A N Purushotham, who is campaigning for his sister-in-law Bhagyalakshmi in Arakere, says,  “At least 50 per cent of the population is labour class. They have been provided with ration cards and other facilities. Works worth nearly Rs 300 crore have been undertaken. Yet, people expect more. The candidate has been made to meet voters personally,” he says.

‘People will vote for good nominees’

Former mayor R Narayanaswamy (Cong), who could not contest this time due to ward reservation reasons, said that as long as educated people fail to make it to polling booths, cost of contesting elections would never come down. “Still, if candidates are good, people voluntarily vote. There is no need to lure them by giving money or distributing gifts,” he says.

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