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Bangalore: 12% turnout till noon, AAP attacked

india Updated: Apr 17, 2014 14:36 IST
Sudipto Mondal
Sudipto Mondal
Hindustan Times
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Polling in Bangalore turned sour when AAP volunteers claimed they were assaulted in Mayaganhalli , Ram Nagar police station. The alleged attack was reportedly carried out by revenue minister DK Shivakumar's men.

The AAP volunteers were rushed to the hospital. They claim that they were thrashed after they tried to stop Shivakumar's men from openly distributing money.

Bangalore has seen a voter turnout of 12% till 10am.

Bangalore South, because of Nandan Nilekani's involvement this Lok Sabha elections, is the most keenly watched constituency the the fifth phase of voting.

Nandan Nilekani, face of the UPA's marquee programme Aadhaar and billionaire co-founder of Infosys is fighting the BJP's formidable opponent Ananth Kumar for the seat.

Nilekani, with his and wife's declared wealth of Rs 7,700 crore, is the richest among the candidates who have entered the fray so far in the country.

Not too long ago, the web-based style of campaigning of Together With Nandan (TWN) in Bangalore South was ridiculed for being disconnected from the grassroots, elitist even. But with the polling day just a day away, nobody seems to be laughing anymore at the 1,500-strong TWN volunteer group, in which many are corporate employees on a sabbatical.

They appear to have achieved the target that was set for them – enroll as many new voters as possible from the urban, educated, English-speaking class. The logic was that this segment would be naturally attracted to the suave, sophisticated Nilekani.

Nilekani's young volunteers are said to have employed the same methods that the BJP and its supporters in the Sangh have become masters in – booth level management. "But we don't just sit around and spam people's inboxes. Our volunteers have actually knocked on at least 500,000 doors asking people to enroll," a TWN volunteer said.

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The Election Commission's stats show there are 2.14 lakh new voters in Bangalore South.

As a result, there are nearly 20 lakh registered voters in the constituency, making it one of the largest in Karnataka. Volunteers of the TWN, the Youth Congress and the NSUI claim they have helped at least one lakh people enter the poll muster. ABVP, RSS and BJP volunteers claim to have enrolled more.

Both camps, however, agree that the new voters are overwhelmingly from the upper strata – Nilekani's target group. But this is the segment responsible for the stereotype that Bangalore South's residents are 'too posh to push the button'. Only 47% of the voters here turned up at polling booths in the 2013 assembly elections.

If all these first-timers vote with the same enthusiasm that they enrolled on the electoral list, Bangalore South might spring a few surprises. And the party that helped enroll the maximum voters will benefit most from this unprecedented surge in voter interest.

Dismissing these calculations, Nina Nayak of the AAP believes the spike in voter interest is a result of the prolonged struggle against corruption launched by India Against Corruption.

Strangely, despite the number of their leaders the anti-corruption movement consumed, supporters of BJP's five-time Bangalore South MP Ananth Kumar also believe that the voter surge was caused by IAC. "This anti-corruption mood will only help us," says Kumar's principal strategist Narayan Gambhir.

But a Congress campaign manager says, "Both Nilekani and AAP enjoy huge support within the IT fraternity. The BJP hopes to benefit from a split in this vote base."

In the high-profile constituency, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) system will be used in polling booths for the first time to ensure transparency. Voters will be able to see to which candidate they have cast the ballot for as a slip pops up after pressing the button.

Here's a map for the constituencies going to polls on Thursday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and key candiates there:

(With inputs from agencies)