As part of the 'Vote Maadi, Pravasa Maadi' drive, visitors who didn’t vote were greeted with shawls and garlands made of government documents.

Shame on you for not voting Tourists who skipped polls garlanded in Chikkamagaluru
news Lok Sabha 2019 Sunday, April 21, 2019 - 16:47

Close to 200 people who visited on Chikkamagaluru on April 18, when 14 constituencies in Karnataka went to polls as part of Phase 2 of the Lok Sabha polls, were caught off guard after they were ‘intercepted’ by members conducting a voter sensitisation campaign.

On April 18, many tourists from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru visited Chikkamagaluru. However, as the groups neared kiosks of Election Commission's static surveillance team at Magadi (camp) at Hassan-Belur, their vehicles were flagged down. As part of the 'Vote Maadi, Pravasa Maadi' drive, visitors who didn’t vote were greeted with shawls and garlands made of government documents.

Did they go too far with the shaming? The president of Journalists Union (Chikkamagaluru) GM Rajashekhar justified the campaign, and said, "When people avail all the facilities from government, why can’t they vote? Some of them even argued that it was their choice not to vote and boasted that they had never voted, including in the recent Assembly elections. We intervened and said that their idea of freedom was skewed or doesn’t hold any merit unless they execute their responsibility first. They could have chosen NOTA if they didn’t like the candidate."

“A Bengaluru resident even asked us if today [April 18] was polling day. He pleaded ignorance. This is embarrassing and highly irresponsible,” he added.

According to Rajashekar, almost all the tourists had their Aadhaar card, PAN card, voter ID and driving licence.  The group led by Rajashekar claimed that they tied the government documents together (without damaging them) and garlanded those who did not vote.He said that as the day progressed, more visitors came from Shivamogga and other places, and they were “honoured, thanked and congratulated” after they showed their fingers marked with indelible ink.

"We have always maintained that tourists are welcome but we request them to vote and act as responsible citizens. It’s a part of a healthy democracy," he said.

During Phase-2 of the Lok Sabha polls, Bengaluru city constituencies — Bengaluru Central, Bengaluru North and Bengaluru South —  saw the lowest turnouts among the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies that went to polls. The capital of Karnataka averaged 48.32% voter turnout, against the state average of 68.8%.

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