The prospect of apathy among urban voters is a cause for concern among political parties on the eve of the second phase of Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka.
Polling will be held for 17 seats, including the four in Bangalore. Delimitation has given Bangalore and its suburbs two more seats, a total of four. That voter turnout is one of the biggest worries this election was apparent from the fact that the candidates and their supporters used the last day of campaigning to urge voters to come out and vote. "As we moved door to door, our first appeal was: 'Come out and vote.' We told voters that a meager turnout will lead to a fractured verdict," said Prof KE Radhakrishna, an educationist and the Janata Dal (S) candidate from Bangalore (South).
In last year's Assembly polls, the average turnout for the 28 seats in Bangalore was mere 44 per cent. Likewise, in the previous general election, only 49 per cent voted in Bangalore (South) while the state average was a respectable 65 per cent.
His opponent, Congress' Krishna Byre Gowda, too, was apprehensive about indifference among voters. “We fine-tuned our campaign so that our workers could reach out to voters and ask them to participate in this democratic process,” he said. These candidates are also pinning hopes on efforts by various citizens groups and NGOs to enthuse people in Bangalore to vote this time around.
One such, Smartvote, attempted to address cynicism about ideal nominees among urban voters through a know-your-candidate campaign across Bangalore's three of the four Lok Sabha seats. "We had 1.5 million hits on our website. I think it (poll percentage) will be better than before because of the awareness campaigns," said Prithvi Reddy, founder-member of Smartvote.