Vivid versions of political parties for low turnout

Leaders blame weekend elections; some favour compulsory voting

The two national parties, the BJP and the Congress, have blamed the State Election Commission’s (SEC) decision to conduct polling on a weekend for the poor voter turnout in the BBMP elections. Some leaders also felt that voting should be made compulsory in future elections.

The citizens did not come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise. The polling percentage has always been low in local body elections. The voter turnout in 2010 BBMP polls was 44 per cent. However, in 2014 parliamentary elections, Bengaluru Urban district recorded a polling of 55.62 per cent.

BJP MLA and former minister S Suresh Kumar said polling should be held in the middle of the week. On weekends, many people go out of town for many reasons. This is one of the reasons for low turnout. Besides, it appears that the citizens are not satisfied with the functioning of the BBMP. All political parties should ponder over this issue and come out with a positive solution, he said.

Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said a lot of people, especially youth, go of station during the weekend. The ideal day for polling is Sunday as it is a holiday for everybody. Besides, rains played a spoilsport. All parties should make efforts to bring about an awareness among citizens on the importance of voting in local body elections, he said.

JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda, however, blamed it on the two national parties. Rampant corruption in the BBMP by the BJP and the Congress government in the State had created a trust deficit among people. The apathy extended to even the economically weaker sections. Though the Congress and BJP spent lakhs of rupees in slum pockets, it had not translated into votes, because of this reason, he added.

Former deputy chief minister R Ashoka of the BJP said Saturday was the day when labourers get their weekly wages. They have to work on this day to get the money. So they have not been able to vote. Moreover, a large number of voters had left the city on Friday for the weekend, he added.

Former mayor D Venkatesh Murthy (BJP), Bengaluru city BJP president Subbanna and Congress MLA from Yeshwantpur S T Somashekar said voting should be made compulsory. They also felt that voters’ list should be updated properly before the elections. About 20 to 30 per cent would have shifted from one place to another in Bengaluru. The SEC should identify them and properly update the voters’ list, Subbanna said.

Former mayor Ramachandrappa (Congress) blamed the BJP for low polling. The BJP’s misrule and false promises have upset people. Many people do not see any hope with the present system. The BJP is to be blamed for this trend, he added.Kumaraswamy said that another major setback in Bengaluru, especially during local body elections, was the fact that over 60 per cent of the population comprises outsiders.

“They just comment about lack of infrastructure, but do not exercise their franchise. Though none of these individuals come out and vote, they expect benefits from the government. But, we have to come to terms with this,” he said.

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