Citizens give corpn. polls the cold shoulder

Elections to urban local bodies normally do not witness very high turnout, says official

Spectacular voter turnout during the recently concluded Lok Sabha and Assembly elections notwithstanding, denizens of Mangaluru remained indifferent to the elections to the Council of Mangaluru City Corporation on Tuesday that saw just 59.57 % turnout.

The administrative machinery had taken up SWEEP activities to create voter awareness during the previous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections that enhanced the turnout by about 6-7% compared to the previous ones. Amid the missing poll euphoria, the council election was not preceded by any large-scale voter awareness programme.

“The Election Commission of India allocates funds and arranges teams for SWEEP activities during the general elections whereas for the local body polls, there is no such provision,” said Deputy Commissioner and District Electoral Officer Sindhu B. Rupesh and Corporation Commissioner S. Ajith Kumar Hegde.

Also, there are other reasons for the low turnout despite political parties undertaking door-to-door campaigning and making last minute efforts to encourage voters to cast their votes, civic activists say.

Meanwhile, holiday for government and private offices and establishments under the Negotiable Instruments Act too did not help much.

Colin Pinto from MCC Civic Group said that many private colleges did not declare a holiday and instead allowed students to arrive late for classes while many students had presentations. Another member G.K. Bhat said that many factories and industries too did not declare a holiday. Nigel Albuquerque from the group said that all those who did not vote despite having the right to, should think about countries where democracy does not exist. If people do not exercise their right, they cannot complain about maladministration, he said.

Ms. Rupesh said that the administration as well as political parties had very little time, 20 days, to go to the polls. Despite this, the administration had taken up a campaign through the media, print and electronic, to create voter awareness. “Perhaps, everyone goes by the turnout during the general elections; but elections to urban local bodies normally do not witness large turnout,” she told The Hindu.

Concurring with her, Mr. Hegde added that young voters did not turn up in large numbers as seen during the general elections.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 7:22:47 PM |

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