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Make voting compulsory, says Deshpande

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Concern: KPCC president R.V. Deshpande along with senior Congress leader Hanumnathappa at a press conference in Bangalore on Saturday.
Concern: KPCC president R.V. Deshpande along with senior Congress leader Hanumnathappa at a press conference in Bangalore on Saturday.

Special Correspondent

KPCC president expresses concern over low voter turnout in first phase of Lok Sabhs polls in State

BANGALORE: Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president R.V. Deshpande on Saturday expressed concern over the low percentage of polling in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections and said that it was not good for democracy.

Mr. Deshpande told presspersons that only 54.65 per cent of the voters in 17 constituencies turned out at the polling booths for casting their votes. Fortunately, it improved in the second phase and went beyond 60 per cent, which would benefit the Congress, he claimed.

Mr. Deshpande said that it was time all parties woke up and seriously considered measures and convinced the electors to vote. He said that voting must be made compulsory. “We will be unfit to be citizens, if we do not exercise our franchise in a democracy.” A low turnout would not reflect the mood of the majority, he said.

Taking objection to Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi’s statement that the Commission was not bothered about the low percentage of voting, Mr. Deshpande said that it that the Commission should do its best in the interest of democracy in the country. Even the Union Government had an important role to play in this behalf. The model code of conduct had become a mockery, he added.

The Congress leader came down heavily on the use of money, liquor and muscle power in the elections, especially by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

He said that even the BJP leaders in New Delhi had expressed their surprise with him over the huge money being used by the party in the State.

Mr. Deshpande demanded that Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa cooperate with the Survey of India to survey the areas in Bellary district bordering Andhra Pradesh, where the Obulapuram Mining Company had allegedly encroached the State forest land and engaged in illegal mining.

Terming the Supreme Court order asking the company to withhold mining activity as a slap on the State Government, he said that Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy should cooperate with the Survey of India.

The KPCC chief urged the State Government to concentrate on day-today administration and attend to the strike by junior doctors. The people were put to hardship due to extreme heat conditions, which might lead to epidemic. They should be provided with clean drinking water and ensure that swine flu did not raise its ugly head in the State.

He demanded an inquiry into the death of a Dalit at Dharmasthala in firing by personnel of the Andhra Pradesh Special Police.

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