Delhi outpolls Bangalore, Mumbai but doesn’t cross halfway mark

May 7th, 2009 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Aamir Khan New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Switch on the radio and you hear it, step out from home and find a huge banner, open the newspapers and it’s there, the TV channels are full of it too — voter appeal campaigns have never been so intense but have failed to jack up polling percentages by more than the halfway mark in the major metros.
India’s political capital Delhi Thursday recorded about 50 percent polling in the fourth phase of Indian elections, only a shade better than 47 percent in the 2004 elections.

The country’s commercial capital Mumbai reported an apologetic 41.2 percent — the lowest since 1977 — in the April 30 polling and IT hub Bangalore recorded 47 percent in the earlier round of balloting, down from 52 percent in 2004.

All this, despite at least half a dozen high profile countrywide voter campaigns by the media and NGOs involving film stars like Aamir Khan and John Abraham.

Internet campaign ‘Jaago Re (Wake Up!) A Billion Votes’ got some 460,000 people registered as voters across the country. Another organisation, Janaagraha, also organised rock concerts featuring Bangalore rock group, Thermal and A Quarter. The band went all over Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai with its “Shut Up and Vote” concert.

Other campaigns in Bangalore were “Let’s Vote” by Round Table India, Karnataka Chapter, and “Sache ko chune, Achche ko chune” (Vote for integrity, Vote for good people) on TV and in print, featuring Aamir Khan.

According to sociologist T.K. Oommen, age-old practices do not change overnight with “voter appeals that come by and large from the glitterati” and adds it is more a media hype which cuts little ice with the electors.

“If the voters don’t find the right candidates or are generally disillusioned they don’t vote,” Oommen told IANS.

High profile former police official Kiran Bedi, known for her jail reforms, vented her frustration with strong words. She said: “I have never seen such appeal campaigns driven by the media. It has been so intense, I have not seen it in my life.”

“Despite that if people don’t come out to vote, it is a shame; they don’t deserve to get a holiday,” she told television channel CNN-IBN.

Few bother.

Here is 18-year-old Yashita Arora, who said: “I didn’t vote because it was a holiday and I went out with my family. There is a lot more to do in a democracy than to just vote, specially for the youth.”

And Divneet Kaur, 19, a Delhi University student: “In politics, we don’t know who is saying the truth and who is lying. Even if i had a voter ID card I might not have voted as i don’t want to waste my vote.”

Political analyst Sandeep Shastri told IANS after the balloting in Bangalore on April 23: “Politicians have failed the people and need to inspire voters by good work and governance to achieve large-scale participation of people during elections.”

Oommen concurred and added that there should be a “none-of-the-above column on the ballot box (electronic voting machine)”. He pointed out that voting was usually high in rural areas as compared to the urban counterparts for the people in the villages need the politician more than in the latter.

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