Bitter half of BBMP poll

Bitter half of BBMP poll

Bitter half of BBMP poll

  The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) townwhip in C V Raman NagaWhile 30 lakh people came out to vote, the remaining 37 lakh voters abstained. The total voter turnout was a low 44.6 per cent. No surprise if the voting pattern in previous elections is any indication.

In the 1996 poll, the voter response was comparatively better at 48.50 per cent. In the last BMP election held in 2001, the response was lower than this time round. Even the  Assembly election (2008) and Lok Sabha election (2009) saw more than half of the total voter population of Bangalore remain indifferent to the biggest democratic exercise.
The declining voter pattern has begun to worry policy makers and political parties alike. Leaders of both ruling BJP and opposition Congress parties are vociferous about making voting compulsory.

Elections to local urban authorities are fought on the plank of civic issues such as bad roads or the lack of it, abuse of storm water drains as sewage canals by colluding public and civic officials, garbage non-clearance, tax collection etc.

Lure of filth lucre

Given a chance, Bangaloreans readily vent their anger against poor civic amenities. Over the last few years, clearance of municipal waste has turned into a lucrative business for moneyed contractors and a daily chore for citizens in many wards to catch the elusive garbage collectors. The lure of the filth lucre has reached such proportions that even the chief minister had to admit it in his speech in the lower House of the legislature recently. Piles of waste by the roadside is a common sight but the Palike has made no serious bid to solve the mess. Apartment residents across the City pay a monthly ‘fee’ (bribe?) to lift the garbage from their premises to the trucks. An annual or bi-annual increment is the norm.   

Even though Congress leaders accused the BJP of not utilising crores of funds released under the JNNURM scheme to improve urban infrastructure, for the record a whopping Rs 600 crore has gone down the ‘remodelled’ but overflowing storm water drains along with two precious lives of young children. Every time it rains, hell breaks loose for residents of low-lying areas.

Fraud on voters

There are enough and more reasons for citizens to become disillusioned with their elected representatives and their fraudulent vote gathering methods. Yet, the major political parties and the candidates in the fray expected at least a moderate voter response because the election was long overdue.

Former mayor Ramachandrappa believes a free and fair poll will unfailingly draw citizens to the polling booths. But this time round, candidates stooped to conquer votes and not the hearts of the citizens with civic pledges. Naturally, the electors were not wrong in deciding that whoever gets elected will be busy recovering his/her investment rather than attending to people’s problems. “Why would they come out on a Sunday to make someone else richer”, he countered.

And for the many Bangaloreans keen to vote, the anomalous voters’ list played spoil sport, contributing to the dip in voting percentage.

M R Srinivasamurthy, former commissioner of Bangalore City Corporation, sees a difference in perception towards elections between the rural and urban masses. The urban mindset has to change, he said, addings: “I strongly feel a change in their mindset and decision to vote may definitely improve the system. They need little motivation to do so.”

People mainly aspire for good governance and the opportunity to have their say on  policy matters that affect them before they are implemented. Will any government make these promises?