Turnout crosses 60 per cent in most of the gram panchayats by 1.30 p.m.
Many first-time voters were excited about their right
‘Caste, money and freebies have played a big role'
Bangalore: In contrast to the voter apathy witnessed during the recently held elections to Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), people stood in serpentine queues outside the polling booths in Bangalore Rural district on Saturday to cast their votes in the gram panchayat polls.
Voters, particularly first-timers and women, thronged the polling stations in the early hours to exercise their franchise.
Young and old alike were found waiting for their turn to cast their vote outside polling booths in Doddasundra, Upparahalli, Alappanahalli, Kammasandra, Yenagunte and Sulibele villages in Bangalore Rural district.
By 1.30 p.m., most of the polling stations had reported a turnout of more than 60 per cent but by evening the turnout touched 80 per cent.
In contrast, the turnout during the BBMP elections was about 44 per cent.
“In Bangalore, the voters had turned their back on the polling process during the recent Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike elections. But, I strictly instructed my children to cast their votes”, said Yellamma of Upparahalli village. Far from being disillusioned with the plethora of problems they faced, including the long hours of load shedding they endured, the voters of Bangalore Rural district yearn for development. “We voted in the hope that the gram panchayat members, who will be elected, would develop our village,” said S. Chaitra, a student of SJS Polytechnic at Medahatti. Her collegemates Bhavya and Kalpana said their village had been deprived of quality power, roads and other infrastructure.
“Various projects of State and Union governments should reach our village,” they added.
Yet, a number of elderly voters, who cast their votes, were cynical about the election process.
“Voting is meaningless for me. I have been voting for the past 60 years but no one developed my village,” said Pillamma (88) of Kammasandra.
Many girls, who were first-time voters, were excited over their new status and showed the indelible mark on the right middle finger with pride to The Hindu.
Most of the first timers like these students were accompanied by their parents. They started trickling into polling booths around 8.30 a.m. and cast votes in the hope of seeing development works in their village.
Women voters arrived with their children and friends. Most of them felt that casting votes should be strictly made mandatory.
A few among the voters, particularly youth and women, confessed that they had voted as per the “instructions” of their parents and husbands.
They said caste, cash and freebies had made an influence on the voters.
Meanwhile, voters list at Kereguddadalli in Bangalore Urban district posed a problem for the voters. Polling officials had a tough time locating the names of the present voters as the names were not listed in any particular order.
However, some officials said the discrepancy was because of the order in which people get their voter identity cards or get their names enrolled in the voters list.
A voter at Kereguddadahalli, Basavaraj, said names of members of each family must be listed together as they usually to go to the polling centres together. “My wife's name is yet to be located and her photograph is not on the list,” he said.