City sheds voting apathy

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 Bangalore, May 5, 2013, DHNS:

Bangalore Urban records 52.8 per cent turnout; State 70.23 pc

Shedding its dubious reputation of being apathetic to poll, Bangalore Urban district on Sunday recorded 52.83 per cent polling in the Assembly elections, 5 per cent more than the 2008 turnout of 47.3 per cent.

Sunday’s elections, for the first time, changed the trend of declining polling percentage in the capital. The percentage has been decreasing since 1994. In the 2008 elections, it was 47.4 per cent and in 2004 it was 52.16 per cent. This time, too, Bangalore has recorded the lowest turnout among the 30 districts.

A record 70.23 per cent of voters exercised their franchise, sealing the fate of 2,940 candidates across the State. The State for the first time crossed the threshold of 70 per cent polling in 35 years. The last time the average poll percentage crossed this mark was in 1978 when 71.9 per cent polling was recorded.

The State’s average voting percentage was 64.68 per cent in 2008 and 65.67 per cent in 2004.

Minor incidents

The final figures are expected to be released by the Election Commission on Monday. Voters turned out at polling booths in large numbers despite minor incidents of violence, searing summer heat and rainfall in some parts of the State. Counting of votes wll begin at 8 am on May 8.

The highest polling percentage was recorded in Bangalore Rural district with 77.95 per cent, followed by Hassan at 76.88 per cent. The lowest belonged to Bangalore Urban, followed by Bidar with 54.98 per cent. About 16 districts have crossed 70 per cent voting, including Ramanagar, Udupi, Haveri and Chikkballapur. “The target was to reach 75 per cent across the State. In all probability, the turnout may cross 71 per cent. And, the result is good,” said Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha.

The sun-scorched districts of Yadgir (58.88 per cent), Gulbarga (59.83 per cent) and Bidar (54.98 per cent) where temperatures usually soar above 40 degrees Celsius recorded poor turnout.

The single-phase polling in 223 constituencies remained by and large peaceful. Polling in the Periyapatna constituency in Mysore district has been postponed to May 28 following the death of the BJP candidate.

Kolar town witnessed some tension when machete-wielding goons wandered on the main street, challenging their rivals.

The police brought the situation under control. One person has been arrested while another is absconding, Jha told reporters.

At Kamaturu village in Sandur, Bellary district, about 300 voters rejected all candidates in the fray under Section 49(o) of the Representation of People’s Act, in protest against illegal mining. The village is near an iron ore mine, and has been completely ravaged by illegal mining. In another incident in Bellary city, polling was suspended for nearly one hour when people staged a protest against security personnel for allegedly assaulting a voter.

People at Begur and Karadagi villages in Belgaum district boycotted polling, protesting poor civic amenities. In another incident, BJP legislator from the Belgaum South constituency Abhay Patil clashed with MES-supported candidate Sambaji Patil. The police brought the situation under control.

The good voter turnout is attributed to many reasons. Political analysts feel it could be an indication of the electorate voting for a change. The EC also undertook a slew of measures to encourage more people, especially youth, to participate in the electoral process. Several NGOs had conducted vigorous campaigns in recent weeks to encourage people to vote. Besides, the EC extended the polling by one hour to provide some relief to voters from the scorching summer.

Two polling officials, one in Honnavara and another in Madhugiri, reportedly died due to heart attack. Besides, two persons were reported to have died of heart attack after casting their votes in Mysore and Chamarajnagar districts.

In Mico Layout under the Bommanahalli Assembly constituency, 85 people were arrested on the charge of attempting to cast bogus votes. The accused were caught with fake ID cards. Another 15 people were arrested at Chikpet over same charges. There were a lot of complaints of missing names from the voters list, especially in Bangalore. Several voters in Vijayanagar, Shantinagar, Bangalore South and Rajarajeshwarinagar did not find their names in the electoral rolls and had to return home without exercising their franchise.

There were complaints that the EC’s proposal to provide voter slips at the doorstep failed. A majority of voters had to do with the slips provided by political parties for easy identification of polling booths and serial number in the voters’ list.

Prominent among the political heavyweights whose fate has been sealed are Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar (Hubli-Dharwad Central), Deputy Chief Ministers R Ashoka (Padmanabhanagar) and K S Eshwarappa (Shimoga), senior Congress leaders G Parameshwara (Koratagere), Siddaramaiah (Varuna), former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal-Secular (Ramanagara) and B S Yeddyurappa of the Karantaka Janata Dal (Shikaripura).

Exit polls point at majority for Cong

Exit polls conducted by various TV channels in association with survey agencies have predicted a comeback for the Congress with a simple majority in the Assembly elections held on Sunday.

He is a Software Engineer from Moodbidri currently living in Kuwait. He likes to travel and post interesting things about technology. He is the designer of Kannadigaworld.com. You may follow him on FB at fb.com/alanpaladka

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