BENGALURU: In a bid to dispel the notion that urban people do not vote, some citizens have carried out awareness drives across the city to get more urbanites to vote. The drives have mostly been online, and in some cases, door-to-door, too. In the 2013 elections, Bengaluru Urban district recorded the lowest turnout of 52.83% in Karnataka, with the state average being 70%. This has also led citizens to believe that politicians do not focus on issues of urban dwellers as they do not see them as a vote bank. This very belief is now being used by citizen groups to convince people to vote.
Uma Nayrayanan, a member of the citizen group Whitefield Rising, said citizens of the Mahadevpura constituency have been specifically asked to not go out on vacation on voting day. "Our main focus is to lay down all the pros and cons of the candidates and let citizens make an educated choice."
Another member of Whitefield Rising said, "We feel politicians do not want apartment folks to vote — that is our experience over the past few years while conducting the million voter rising campaigns. When MLA Aravind Limbavali runs voter registration camps, ID cards are ready within the snap of a finger. Whereas, we had to fight for registrations for years."
Another way that citizen groups are making their case is by saying that voting is the way to raise a voice against whatever civic issues they have been facing. "Indiranagar has constantly been in the media for our battles against commercialisation. This is a fabulous case study for residents themselves to realise why the government has not paid attention to their demands - because they do not consider them a vote bank," said Aruna Newton, a member of the citizen group 'I Change Indiranagar.' Another issue, says Aruna, is that people might not identify themselves with a constituency. "Despite being educated, people still say my native place is XYZ and I do not belong here. There is apathy on their part too, but we can do a lot of education around that," she added.
Awareness drives are still in the process. Some members of Bangalore Apartments' Federation (BAF) are conducting a door-to-door campaign in their respective apartment complexes, says member Sandhya Bhat. Citizen groups are hoping that their efforts are reflected in the voter turnout on May 12.