Scorching heat in Karnataka to make poll campaign torrid affair

February 28th, 2009 - 10:59 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Feb 28 (IANS) Political parties struggling to find winning candidates and a strategy for the Lok Sabha polls due in April-May are already facing the heat - weatherwise - in India’s IT hub and other parts of Karnataka.

February is generally pleasant in Bangalore with maximum temperature hovering between 28 and 33 degrees Celsius. However, this February it has reached 35 degrees and the temperature in March-April will be worse with the mercury touching 37 to 38 degrees, according to the meteorological department here.

“There may be occasional thunderstorms in March and April but not continuously. Maximum temperature during March and April will reach up to 38 degrees Celsius,” director of meteorological department A. Muthuchami told IANS.

The normal temperature in March and April is 35 degrees Celsius.

The last time the mercury touched the 35-degree mark in February in Bangalore was in 2005. On Feb 17 that year, the maximum temperature in Bangalore was 35.9 degrees, said Muthuchami.

Campaigning for the Lok Sabha poll is likely to start in the second half of March as the Election Commission of India is expected to announce the dates in the next few days.

Most of the political parties are in the process of sewing up alliances and announcing the candidates with the Bharatiya Janata Party, bidding to recapture power it lost in the May 2004 poll, taking the lead by already finalising the list of contestants for around 100 of the 545-member Lok Sabha.

The Congress, which is leading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, hopes to complete the candidate selection by mid-March, state party leaders indicate.

The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee expects to finalise the candidates for the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state by March 7 or 8, according to its president, R.V. Deshpande.

“The list will be sent to Delhi for the party central leadership’s approval. The final list will be announced in Delhi,” he had told reporters here Wednesday.

The state BJP has already announced the candidates for nine of the 28 seats. The nominees for the other seats may be decided by March 7, party spokesperson Dhananjaya Kumar told IANS.

The other major player is Janata Dal (Secular) headed by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda. The party is hoping for an understanding, if not an alliance, with the Congress, though publicly it maintains that it will field nominees in all the 28 seats.

As the parties continued their candidate selection exercise, the weather department predicted no relief from the soaring mercury till May.

“During March and April the temperature will touch up to 37-38 degrees Celsius in Bangalore. Till May, there may not be rain. Bangalore will remain pretty dry with few spells of rain.

“Summer this time could be severe and hotter than summers of last couple of years,” said Muthuchami, citing lack of winter rain as the main reason for the torrid heat this year.

“Last year it rained and it was cloudy; so the summer was not as severe as we are experiencing this time,” he said.

The situation in many parts of north Karnataka will be worse as the region is arid.

April-May, when the election campaign will reach its peak in several parts of the country, are the hottest months in the state. In districts like Gulbarga, Bellary and Raichur, temperatures rise to 40 degrees Celsius.

Bangalore generally experiences a very favourable weather throughout the year because of its geography. The city is located in the Deccan plateau of southern peninsular India at a height of 949 metres above the sea level.

“The summer in India is very hot at other places, while the people of Bangalore have to use blankets at night during the summers. For this reason the city is sometimes called the ‘air-conditioned city’ of India,” said Muthuchami.

“But this year, it seems to be quite different,” he added.

Environmentalists blame the rapidly declining green cover over the city for the summer getting hotter over the years.

In the last few years the city has lost around 50,000 trees, felled to widen roads and build flyovers or road underpasses and other developmental activities, according to a report by the Environment Support Group (ESG), a city-based NGO.

Divya (who only writes her first name), of ESG, said that trees were the lifeline of Bangalore and as it sheds the green cover, the rise in temperature was inevitable.

“Not only is the temperature rising, the city did not have rains in the last four months. This has resulted in severe heat and dust,” rued Divya.

State political parties have resigned to the problem of campaigning during the soaring temperatures.

“We have to face it. We cannot avoid it,” Dhananjaya Kumar said when asked how his party planned to tackle the hard task of campaigning in the heat.

“You are right,” he laughed when told that all political parties will have to spend more money this time to arrange drinking water as an incentive for the people to attend public meetings.

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