Not many city dwellers voted in Karnataka: EC (Interview)

May 28th, 2008 - 11:24 am ICT by admin  

By Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi
New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) The low voter turnout in the post-delimitation urban constituencies in Karnataka has again proved that urban dwellers shy away from voting, said Election Commissioner S.Y. Qureshi. “The polling percentage in urban areas was 46 percent while it was even lower in Bangalore city at 44 percent. The apathy among urban voters towards voting was visible in other urban areas as well,” Qureshi told IANS.

Although the number of urban constituencies has gone up, the polling percentage was low in these areas, reinforcing what is widely recognised: urban voters are not keen about voting.

This seems to be a pan-Indian phenomenon. “It is sad that the middle class discusses politics in drawing rooms but does not come out to vote,” Qureshi lamented.

The number of assembly constituencies in Bangalore alone has gone up from 16 to 28 after delimitation. Since delimitation is an attempt to bring all the constituencies at par in terms of population, the number of urban constituencies swelled as the urban population shot up over the years due to migration of people from villages.

The total polling percentage in Karnataka was 61 percent, the bulk of the voters coming from rural areas.

Karnataka, which has a 224-member assembly, was the first state to go to the polls after boundaries of constituencies were redrawn. The elections saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) taking power for the first time in a southern state.

Qureshi said that delimitation was not to blame for the low polling. In fact the overall polling percentage had actually gone up, he said. Neither is low turnout in urban areas a new phenomenon.

“We have received mails and I have seen several ‘letters to the editor’ in newspapers where people have expressed their displeasure at the low polling percentage in cities,” Qureshi said. “Some people even suggested making voting mandatory.”

Qureshi said the Election Commission had made all efforts to publicise the changes in the constituencies and other aspects of polling to make it a smooth process. NGOs mobilised people to go out and vote.

“We removed the names of 5.3 million voters,” he said. These voters had shifted out or died or their names had been duplicated.

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