‘Shortest ever’ election cycle in full swing

With barely eight days to go before Bengaluru witnesses a historic election, candidates are up and about, to touch base with voters.

"I am running to represent the people in all government offices and departments where they want their work done, but I am not going to make false promises about specific projects or schemes", says R Venkatesh, film director and JD(S) candidate for councillor at JP Nagar (Ward 177). Forty-two year old Venkatesh is a first-time corporator candidate and says he is inspired by H D Kumaraswamy’s leadership.

Venkatesh’s attitude sums up a reformist and perhaps even non-ideological line, amongst the tickets mainline parties have given to some candidates. But with a whopping 198 seats up for the council, candidates of all shades – young and old, hard partisans and fierce independents, reform seekers and old-world vote capture experts, meticulous planners and otherwise — are running in the 198 races in troubled Bengaluru.

Everyone knows, even if they do not say so, that this is perhaps the shortest election cycle ever on Indian soil. But few candidates, if any, are complaining. Planning, assignment of responsilibilities to volunteers and execution is all happening in one big mash. The small size of most wards has made it easier for a seven to ten day door-to-door campaigns and touching bases with voters.

bbmp elections candidates

Candidates are going door-to-door to speak to residents and campaign for the BBMP elections. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

Some candidates are assigning party volunteers to monitor streets around the booths and ensure that voters come for their own candidate. Even as this goes on, thick rolls of voter lists are being passed out for division of work. In one campaign meeting on Thursday, even as a volunteer stood up to be assigned his booth, three different elders, simultaneously started talking to him, giving ‘their inputs’. It took a few minutes for some clarity to hit the earnest youngster. As they spoke, the volunteer was also asked to bring money for the campaign on their own.

Debates list

March 20, 4 to 7 pm (Citizen Matters)
Meet Your Candidates and Debate – Ward 177 and 178
Venue: Mahatma Gandhi School Ground, 9th Cross, 8th Main, JP Nagar
March 21, 4 to 7 pm (Citizen Maters)
Meet Your Candidates and Debate – Ward 172 and 176
Venue: AICOBOO Ground, next to Advaith Petrol Bunk/Adyar Anand Bhavan
March 21 Koramangala, 4pm to 7pm (Smart Vote)
Venue: Builders Home, National Games Village
21 Mar in Padmanabhanagar, 4 pm

{Padmanabhanagar Senior Citizen’s forum and
DIS Parents’ Association (DIPA)}Venue: Open Air stage, Regional Co-Op Management
Training Institute (Near D G Hospital


March 23  in Vasanth Nagar
MarCH 23 in Aramane Nagar and Bellanduru
March 24 in Rajarajeswari Nagar, Banaswadi
March 25 in Sunkenahalli

* Venues and other details to be updated shortly

In another development, Citizen Matters learnt that BJP campaigners working for Katta Jagadeesh, BJP’s candidate for Vasanthnagar (Ward 93), met N S Ramakanth, the Lok Satta candidate for the same ward and attempted to persuade him to withdraw from the race. Ramakanth’s credentials are well known in the area. He is the former president of Kumara Park Residents Welfare Association and has worked closely on waste management issues with the BBMP. Ramakanth, who declined to comment on the episode, has however not withdrawn. Lok Satta party leadership say they have decided not to make an issue out of this. They are however filing a complaint with the State Election Commission.

Even as candidates are into the thick of planning for yatras and canvassing over the upcoming weekend, media organisations and citizen groups are organising a series of debates around the city starting tomorrow. At Citizen Matters, we publish a local print magazine in south Bangalore, and we are organising two debates this weekend, at JP Nagar (wards 177 and 178) on Saturday evening (4-7pm) and at BTM Layout (wards 176 and 172) on Sunday evening (4-7pm).

The Smart Vote citizens’ group is organising a debate for Koramangala (Ward 151) also on Sunday evening (4-7pm). There is a debate at Padmanabhanagar on Sunday evening, also at 4pm.

Debates happening this weekend are going to be a plus for candidates doing campaigning next week. One, it would have helped them assess each other better. For another, attending voters will have already seen and heard their candidates before they come knocking on their doors next week.

Amidst this, Suvarna News 24×7, a local Kannada news channel relased the results of a detailed study of voter views for the elections.

It took three and a half years and a lot of litigation to get to this point, and that now makes the state government look small for having fought to delay it. And after the longest possible wait, Bangalore got all of a mere 25 days for an election cycle.   ⊕

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