Govind D. Belgaumkar

The district has 13.26 lakh voters as on

March 29

At 84 per cent, it has highest rate of literacy in Karnataka

MANGALORE: The voters in Dakshina Kannada are among the “most conscious” people when it comes to election in the State. For the last three elections, their turnout has been much higher than the State’s average.

Known to be the most literate district in the State, with 84 per cent literacy as per 2001 Census, almost 75 per cent of the people vote in Assembly or Lok Sabha elections against the State average of 66 per cent.

The polling in Dakshina Kannada in 2004 was more than 74 per cent to the State’s average of 65 per cent. In 1999, it was 74 per cent when the State’s average was 67 per cent and in 1994, it was 71 per cent to the State’s average of 68 per cent. The district has 13.26 lakh voters as on March 29. It has proved to be a district in which rural voters exhibit better commitment to vote than their urban counterparts.

The figures show that voter turnout has been higher than the State’s average in five constituencies during the three previous elections. They are Sullia, Puttur, Belthangady, Moodbidri and the now dissolved Vittla constituency. In Mangalore, the voter turnout is less than the State average.

In 1994, the turnout in the then Ullal and Surathkal constituencies was 63 per cent against the State’s average of 68 per cent.

A combination of factors could be responsible for this. Rolphie Mascarenhas, a retired Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science of St. Aloysius College, attributes the higher voter turnout to panchayats. He was hinting at the vibrant political activity in the district was one of the reasons. Level of education and caste/community consciousness of people were the other reasons quoted by him for higher turnout. He cited the example of Ullal, where Muslims would troupe into the polling booths to ensure victory of the candidate of their community. He conceded that caste-consciousness was greater among the people of Dakshina Kannada compared to most other districts in the State. “Many people here introduce themselves first with their names and then they quickly add their caste. They take pride in their caste/community,” Prof. Mascarenhas said.