BENGALURU: The city fared better in Saturday’s civic elections than last time, with half of its 73 lakh voters going out and exercising their franchise.
At 11 pm, a BBMP official put the tally at 50 per cent, indicating the highest numbers for any civic election in the city in recent memory. The turnout betters the 2010 turnout of 44 per cent by 6 per cent. Results are expected on Tuesday.
According to some exit polls, it is a close fight between the Congress and the BJP for the 198-member council, with the JD (S) coming a distant third.
The CVoter-TV9 exit poll gave the Congress 90 to 98 seats, the BJP 83 to 91, the JD (S) nine to 17, and others, including independents, eight.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had led the Congress campaign, crisscrossing the city and addressing rallies in all 27 Assembly segments. For the BJP, which had held the BBMP till recently, many senior leaders, including Central ministers, had camped in the city to seek votes. District-in-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy told Express that the Congress was confident of crossing the 100-mark. “Unlike in the Lok Sabha elections, voters from apartments and gated communities did not turn up this time.”
He said his party was expecting at least six to seven seats in each of these eight Assembly constituencies: BTM Layout, Mahadevapura, Shantinagar, Sarvagnanagar, Pulikeshinagar, KR Puram, Chickpet and Shivajinagar.
“In Bengaluru South, Hebbal and Rajarajeshwari Nagar, we may get more,” he said.
BJP Vice-President V Somanna said the higher turnout signals a tilt in favour of the BJP. “We expect to get at least 90 seats. We expect good results in Rajajinagar, Malleswaram, Vijayanagar, Govindarajnagar, Basavangudi, Jayanagar, Padmanabhanagar, Dasarahalli, and CV Raman Nagar,” he said.
Rural Development and the Panchayat Raj minister H K Patil the only way to raise voting was to make it mandatory. “By staying away from the polling booths on Saturday, many citizens have demonstrated they are not serious about better civic governance,’’ he said.
Not High Enough
State Election Commissioner P N Sreenivasachari said the numbers were higher than last time, but not good enough.
“We wanted to see more than 50 per cent. But conducting the BBMP elections and getting voters in big numbers is a Herculean task,’’ he said.
For him, the indifference is puzzling. “In the Gram Panchayat elections, we saw very high numbers. People working in Bengaluru went back to their home towns to vote because the contestants were relatives or neighbours. But in the city, contestants are mostly unknown faces,” he reasoned.
The Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike elections in 2001 saw 44.32 per cent voting, while in the 2010 election, with many suburbs coming under the newly formed BBMP, the voting was 44.04 per cent.
On Saturday, the booths opened at 7 am. After two hours, voting was just 2.41 per cent. At 11 am, the numbers were dismal at 6.51 per cent.