Will B'lureans go out and vote?

Will B'lureans go out and vote?

Will B'lureans go out and vote?

 Bengalureans have usually remained apathetic to or kept themselves aloof from the elections. And it would not be surprising if the trend continues in the coming Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike polls.

This despite the improvement in the voter enrolment over the years. In 2010, though 69.77 lakh voters got themselves enrolled in Bengaluru, only 30.72 lakh voters (44.04 per cent) came out and voted. In 2015, the voter enrolment has gone up by around two lakh. As many as 71.80 lakh people have enrolled themselves in the voters’ list as on July 15.

The behaviour of the urban voter has changed little over the years, said K N Ramesh, joint chief electoral officer. The urban voter gets involved in the voter enrolment process mainly to gain other benefits, he added. The voter identity card serves as an authentic proof to get a passport, etc. “Usually, the civic polls serve as a holiday to the urban voter. The voting is, however, slightly better during the assembly and parliamentary elections,” he added.

During the 2013 assembly elections, BBMP Central (Shivajinagar, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Shanthinagar, Gandhinagar, Rajajinagar, Chamarajpet and Chickpet) recorded 57.62 per cent polling; BBMP North (KR Puram, Mahalakshmi Layout, Malleswaram, Hebbal, Pulakeshinagar, Sarvajnanagar and C V Raman Nagar) recorded 56.5 per cent; and BBMP South (Govindaraj Nagar, Vijaynagar, Basavanagudi, Padmanabhanagar, BTM Layout, Jayanagar, Bommanahalli) 55.03 per cent.

Sociologist Prof G K Karanth of Jain University said an urban voter “adores an election, because he/she can take a break from the routine”. “This, however, is a worldwide phenomenon, especially when it comes to civic elections, when the informed urban dweller distances himself from the electoral process,” he said.

He said the urban voter is so well informed that he/she is averse to the very process. This is also because of the “nothing can ever change” state of mind, he added.

“Neither political action nor civic action of mobilising groups to create awareness can change this trend. The debates are extended to the breakfast table, where the informed city dweller is seen talking, nagging and criticising the state of affairs. But they rarely take trouble to go out and cast their votes,” he said.

Also, the political class, with its “hired crowd”, fails to connect to the urban voter. This leads to a “class clash” during electioneering, which ultimately works in favour of the politicians.

He said there was over a four-decade gap between the JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) movement and the Anna Hazare movement, when the urban voter got seemingly enthused. “However, the turn of events of the Anna Hazare movement left the urban voter frustrated. As a result, the spirit of collective action took one step back,” he added.

Former BBMP commissioner S Subramanya, too, felt that the upwardly mobile does not consider the urban local body elections an issue. For the urban voters, who live in their “google world”, these elections becomes a non-event, he added. He also said that there was a clear divide between ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ - Bharat representing the rustic candidate and India, the elite voter. The gap between the voter and the politician creates an opaqueness in the system, which is exploited by the ruling class.

“The elite class cannot identify itself with the candidate in fray either because of his rural/rustic or even criminal background. The urban voter does talk a lot, but voting is not his cup of tea,” he said.

Bengaluru vs rest of Karnataka

YEAR    STATE    B’luru Urban   
2008 Assembly    64.70%    49.87%
2009 Lok Sabha    58.80%    45.81%
2013 Assembly    71.29%    57.38%
2014 Lok Sabha    67.30%    55.80%
2010 BBMP        44.00%
Electoral roll as on July 15, 2015
Male: 37,68,498 (2015); 36,78,441 (2010)
Female: 34,10,388 (2015); 32,988567 (2010)
Others: 114 (2015); 2010 - NA
Total: 71,80,027 (2015); 69,77,008 (2010)
Voter turnout in 2010: 30,73,799

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