Home / Politics / Policy /  Bengaluru civic polls register low voter turnout

Bengaluru: Elections to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bengaluru’s administrative body, came to a close on Saturday evening with a low voter turnout.

Even though the state election commission is yet to announce the final turnout numbers, only an estimated 45% of the city’s 7 million plus electorate showed up in polling booths on Saturday.

The turnout was low despite the high-profile campaigning by all major political parties and social media campaigning urging the residents to exercise their franchise. Hashtags such as ‘BBMPelections’ were trending throughout the day in Twitter.

“It would have to be taken as a reflection of voters having no confidence in mainstream political parties" said Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and pro-vice chancellor of Jain university.

“Obviously, there is a factor of middle-class apathy. But the political parties are supposed to address that apathy and inspire confidence in voters’ minds. That has not been done, partly because of their lacklustre performance and uneffective agenda," he said.

The turnout in the last polls was 44%, which was the first elections to BBMP after reconstituting the city, adding surrounding municipalities, townships and villages in 2010.

The election is crucial for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), partly because a loss or win could serve as a referendum on the performance of chief minister Siddaramaiah’s present government or the BJP’s incumbent 198-member BBMP council.

The BBMP elections would also set the mood for the upcoming elections to 11 legislative seats, which will be followed by zilla panchayat elections—all of which will be held in next six months.

“Congress appeared directionless in the state since they lost the Lok Sabha elections. The series of attempts it made to put off elections with its plan to bifurcate or trifurcate BBMP also sent a message that they are unsure of winning. The BJP knows well that they did not do anything really to cover themselves in glory while ruling BBMP before," said Shastri.

Incidentally, the Aam Aadmi Party that swept aside the Congress and BJP in the Delhi assembly elections in February had chosen not to contest BBMP election.

The polling process also witnessed several complaints regarding names missing from the voters’ list.

P.G. Bhatt, a former visiting faculty at Indian Statistical Institute, pointed to the state election commission that more than 99% of the voters registered since 1 February is excluded from the voter lists.

“After this, more than five lakh registration request were approved on 17 August, just five days before the elections. But they were not included in BBMP electoral rolls, though added to the CEO’s voter database," said Bhatt.

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