The rebellion, debate disruption and more masala from the season!

BPAC candidate-citizen meet being hijacked by language chauvinism and party politics was the biggest news last week.

In a first, to aid electioneering, a single window system to get all clearances from the Returning Officer has been set up in the city. Permission from the BBMP and police can be obtained from the RO who will now be available at the Police Commissioner’s office between 3pm and 5pm. But, AAP candidate from Bangalore Rural, Ravi Krishna Reddy said that candidates still had to approach different agencies so it could not be called a single window system.

In another first, after the EVMs has been introduced, Bangalore South has been picked as one of the constituencies that will have the Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail, as directed by the Supreme Court, to ensure transparency and accuracy in the current EVM system. The voter will see on a screen their vote being registered, this vote will be printed and automatically falls into a sealed ballot box. In case of dispute against the EVM, the paper votes will be counted.

It’s raining manifestos

This week, at national level, the INC announced their manifesto, listing out what they have done in different sectors so far and their plans if elected. Although the BJP has not officially released its manifesto, ‘party officials’ seem to be feeding bits of it to the media. The CPI also released its manifesto, “economic development with equitable distribution and social justice.”

After spending considerable time to find winnable candidates, the JD(S) finally announced its candidates. It may seem, to some, like a hasty decision after being unable to grab any big names from other parties, but in Bangalore it maybe a calculated move after assessing the opposing candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

Complaints, Candidates, Campaigning

AAP lodged a complaint with the EC saying that pamphlets with false, objectionable and defamatory content have been distributed on behest of the Congress, creating false propaganda against AAP. AAP also was in for a surprise when it had a fake nominee from the Bangalore South Constituency. AAP candidate Ravi Krishna Reddy also made an appeal to the EC to ensure free and fair polls stating that his party workers were facing a hostile atmosphere and that his rivals had threatened social activist S R Hiremath when he was campaigning for AAP.

In another development, Sriram Sene founder Pramod Mutalik is contesting in the much-debated constituency, Bangalore South. While the state BJP officebearers like Prahlad Joshi wanted him to be in BJP and officially he was inducted into the party, the Central BJP diapproved this membership. A disturbed Mutalik, has filed his nominations as Independent candidate, both from Hubli and Bangalore South. He was also reported as targeting Ananthkumar.

With a fortnight left to elections, campaigning seems to be intensifying in some quarters with star power supporting candidates. Girish Karnad supports Nandan Nilekani in Bangalore South, Harsha Moily abandons Dakshina Kannada to campaign for his father in Chickballapur and Vivek Oberoi campaigns for his mother-in-law Nandini Alva.

It’s Nandan v/s Ananth all over

Nandan Nilekani has complained to Election Commission and Press Council of India, regarding Ananth Kumar’s attack on the Aadhar card. Nilekani disputed the figures of Aadhaar spend projected by media, saying it is just about half the BBMP budget, not Rs 50,000 crores as suggested by politicians and media.

The differences came to fore again in the BPAC-organised candidate debate for Bangalore South. The debate widely covered by all TV channels saw the debate finally being disrupted when Ananthkumar moved away from the topic, to which the Congress supporters in the audience started protesting. During the discussion some of the candidates did share their plans for the constituency and state, if elected.

Voter awareness

An election awareness campaign, Me and My Vote are Not for Sale, was organised by Bhima Sangha. Grama Panchayat Hakkottaya Andolana – Movement for Self-determination of Local Governments also have a similar on going campaign. They also demanded that NOTA have some weightage especially if there are more NOTA votes than the winning candidate.

The EC has been using unique ways to create voter awareness with Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) Action Plans in place. Hoardings can be seen across the city urging voters to exercise their franchise. A meeting was held at the office of the State Chief Election Officer with about 25 representatives from the media and other departments for better understanding and coordination of SVEEP.

Pre-elections have also seen the release of a few books on Indian elections, looking at issues and paths taken by governments and thereby urging people to ask questions and make an informed choice.

The list of candidates grow, with as many as 20 independents in some constituencies. It would be interesting if the candidates did share more information on themselves so their electorate could make an informed choice. There will be two voting machines in Bangalore South, Bangalore Central and Chikballapur constituencies due to the number of candidates who have filed their nominations. Bangalore Central has the highest number of candidates in the state.

Over the next couple of weeks, Citizen Matters will be following campaigns, profiling and interviewing candidates from all five constituencies.

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