In an attempt to reverse the trend of low voter turnout in Bengaluru, citizen groups are organising a mock poll on May 5, exactly a week before the day of voting.
The mock poll, titled ‘Nanna Mata Namma Hita Maadari Chunavane’ (My Vote Our welfare Mock Poll)’ will start at 9 30 am, and will be held at Town Hall.
The event is being organised by a group of organisations including Citizens for Bengaluru, I Change My City, Citizen Action Forum, CIVIC, Bengaluru Apartment Federation, Whitefield Rising and many RWAs from across the city. The same groups have also created a citizens’ manifesto, and aim to motivate more people to cast their vote in the upcoming election.
Bengaluru recorded a voter turnout of 52.8% during the 2013 Assembly elections, as opposed to a statewide turnout of 71.45%. Although activists and voters have been complaining about faulty electoral rolls that distort turnout numbers or make it difficult for people to vote, voter apathy is also acknowledged as a major problem.
“Elections have become all about the personality of the candidates and empty rhetoric instead of real issues. The idea of the event is to send out a message that Bengaluru’s citizens take their responsibility seriously. We want to send out a message to the political parties that voters are interested in solving real issues and not in petty politics and divisive agendas,” said Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru.
The mock poll will use ballot boxes instead of EVMs, and aims to shift the focus from political parties and candidates to civic issues.
“We are glad that both the Congress and BJP manifestos reflect that they have taken our citizens’ manifesto into consideration. At the mock poll, citizens will get a chance to convey to the political parties which issues are important to them, and how they would like these issues to be addressed. To know more about the process, we urge people to come to the poll tomorrow,” Srinivas said.
The activists believe that citizens are highly engaged in civic issues and are interested in problem-solving, but are disillusioned by petty politics and divisive agendas. The mock poll is an initiative to turn citizen engagement into voter turnout.
“The mock poll on Nanna Mata Namma Hita will show that Bengaluru is ready to vote not just once but twice. People are ready to reclaim ownership for the agenda for the city,” said Tara Krishnaswamy of CfB.
Well-known citizens such as Prakash Belawadi, Prof Ashish Verma, Sruthi Hariharan, Saad Khan and Vasu Dixit will be present at the event. The details can be found here.