Voting remained abysmally low in India’s technology capital, Bengaluru, as most people preferred to stay away from the ongoing Lok Sabha polls highlighting the apathy of a large section of the population who seem more eager to pursue online activism rather than take part in the electoral process.
The three urban constituencies of North, Central and South recorded polling percentages of 50.03%, 49.76%, 53.53%, respectively, at around 5 pm on Thursday. Bengaluru Rural recorded voting of 64.09%. 14 out of the 28 parliamentary seats of Karnataka went to the polls on Thursday that included the four seats from Bengaluru (including rural).
Overall, Karnataka recorded an average of 61.84%. The numbers are expected to be slightly higher as election authorities are yet to release the final count.
But hope that there would be a change in citizens’ attitude towards the polls appeared thin as Bengaluru, that is considered the growth engine of the state, often registers the lowest polling numbers.
The three urban constituencies have a total of over 5.8 million voters. Though voters, that comprise people from the information technology industry, start-ups, central and state government employees and several other white collar professions have often cited excuses to stay away from polling. Several districts, that see weekend tourists from Bengaluru, had also put out notices that they will not entertain bookings on polling day to encourage more people to vote.
Bengaluru has been a serial offender when it comes to low polling. The three urban seats saw polling of 56.53% (north), 55.64% (central) and 55.75% (south) in the 2014 elections as well.
The polling during assembly elections are nothing to go by either.
Political leaders, film personalities and other citizens of the city posted pictures of them in the polling booths and urging others to exercise their right. But to no avail.
"Did cast my vote with my family but a bit late in the day. Sadly Bengaluru continues to vote in low percentages, though we make the maximum noise," Dinesh Gundu Rao, president of the state unit of the Congress wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Most polling booths in Bengaluru saw brisk activity as there were no long queues found in most places.
Several start-ups encouraged its employees to cast their ballot. Bundl Technologies Pvt. Ltd-run Swiggy, an online food delivery platform put out a hashtag #VoteKaroPhirSwiggyKaro.
ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd-run Ola cabs issued a statement on Thursday stating that it had partnered with the election authorities in Karnataka offering its services to ferry voters with disabilities.
“Did cast my vote with my family but a bit late in the day. Sadly Bengaluru continues to vote in low percentages, though we make the maximum noise," Dinesh Gundu Rao, president of the state unit of the Congress wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Narendra Pani, political analyst and faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies attributed the low turnout to the lack of a “wave" in these elections. “Rural voters tend to vote as a group as compared to the urban population that is a more individualistic society," he said.
Get latest news and live updates on Elections 2019 here