Getting Bangalore to vote: a major new initiative

Bangalore With its large floating population, Bangalore, India's tech hub, has the dubious distinction of a consistently poor turnout in elections. Now, a group of citizens have joined hands in an attempt to change that record.

Only around 45 percent of Bangaloreans voted in the 2008 assembly polls; about 50 percent voted in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

A group of concerned citizens, including Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of leading bio-technology firm Biocon, TV Mohandas Pai, former director of Infosys, athlete Ashwini Nachappa and Bharatnatyam dancer Vani Ganapathi, along with a few others, have taken to encouraging Bangaloreans to cast their vote.

The Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC) was launched recently by these citizens, with support from Infosys founder and emeritus chairperson NR Narayana Murthy.

Mr Pai, who serves as BPAC vice-president, said that in partnership with SmartVote, an NGO, the citizens have been running a campaign online, within office premises and college campuses, encouraging those eligible to vote to register themselves and take part in polling.

 "For the first time, more than 40 percent of eligible voters are the educated middle class. They will determine the fate of candidates only if they get registered as voters by April 7, and go out and vote," Mr Pai  said.

BPAC has several initiatives in its Agenda for Bangalore (AfB), of which "efforts to maximize people's participation in democracy" is the most prominent.  It also plans to provide financial and campaign support to candidates contesting from Bangalore, if they support the AfB.

The city's population is estimated to be nine million. State election authorities say they have been able to register 62 per cent of eligible voters, and hope to touch 65 per cent by April 7, the last date to update the electoral list before the crucial May 5 Assembly elections. Bangalore sends 27 representatives to the 225-strong assembly.
 

Story First Published: April 01, 2013 14:09 IST
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