BENGALURU: FOR all the screaming and campaigning against the increasing frequency of crime and civic issues bugging Bengaluru, the voters still came out voting in favour of Congress. The city’s vote showed no signs of anti-incumbency. It led to Congress increasing its tally from 12 seats in the 2013 assembly polls to 13, while BJP, which had won 12 in 2013, slid to 11 in the 2018 polls.
The perception that Bengaluru generally voted pro-BJP was thrown out of the window. What emerged was the vindication of the long-standing view that residents are by and large indifferent to the issues facing them — both, Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy and City Development Minister K J George retained their seats. Of the other three ministers, Roshan Baig (Shivajinagar) won by a margin of 15,033 votes; Krishna Byregowda (Byatarayanapura) by a margin of 5,674 votes; and M Krishnappa (Vijayanagar) by 3,099 votes.
In fact, of all the five ministers from Bengaluru have won with huge margins.
George and Baig had several issues that sat like thorns under their wings — the garbage problem, poor roads, water logging in low-lying areas, depletion of tree cover, the steel flyover issue, traffic woes, among others. “I am very saddened by the low voter turnout. It was around 54%. This highlights a lack of interest in voters and indifference to the many issues that continue to plague us,” said Ashish Verma, transportation engineering expert from IISc.
“Those who opposed infrastructure projects on social media have shown this indifference. By voting back the ministers who were responsible for those issues is like showing a thumbs up to all the bad they had done. The welfare schemes by the government have tapped into the citizens and they have not looked at broader picture.” Reddy, on his part, had questions to answer on women’s safety, criminal activities, New Year’s Eve problems wherein women were targeted, and a manpower short police force. Not to forget the several cases where children were targeted in schools.
“Bengaluru is very asymmetrical, in the sense that there are a lot of migrants compared to those who actually live here and that adds to the low voter turnout,” said Ashwin Mahesh, urban expert and founder of a social technology firm, Mapunity. “Although citizens have problems with those in power, they do not vote for other candidates because they might not be powerful enough to bring a change. Unless parties offer anything different, it is bound to be a wave-less election.”
The ideal solution to this appears from Srinivas Alavilli, member, Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB). “As citizens, we should be more proactive rather than cynical. No matter who comes to power, we should be vigilant and raise our voices wherever necessary. Ultimately whichever person comes to power, the onus is on us to keep his/her activities in check. The democratic discourse is getting better in the city and things shall change.”
BUT VOTE SHARE SHOWED SOMETHING ELSE
However if one sees the voter share among Bengalureans, although Congress won 13 seats in the city, BJP 11 and JD(S) 2, BJP’s voter share was the highest at 41.35%. It was 39.39% for Congress and 15.52% for JD(S). This means more people have preferred a change in the city through a pro-BJP vote although while translating into seats, it has gone the Congress way.