Missing names in Karnataka
Scientific rigging or voter venality
By Sarat Chandra Babu
Voters vent their anger in Karnataka in several constituencies over miss-ing their names. Noted among them are matinee idol Rajkumar and his entire family. “We were shocked when we learnt that our names were missing from the list. It was disgusting,” his son Raghavendra told.
Dancer Pratibha Prahlad flew all the way from Delhi to find that her name was not there in the electoral roll. JD(S) candidate Ananth Nag filed a complaint with Election Commission that names of 20,000 voters were missing. Chief Minister S.M. Krishna is contesting from this constituency.
In this small constituency of 95,000 plus voters, all sorts of incidents were reported. BJP and JD(S) candidate demanded from the Election Commission to hold repolling in the constituency. JD(S) termed it as a conspiracy by the ruling Congress to bolster its poll chances. It is a debatable issue as to how a large number of eligible voters were denied the right to vote.
In a statement, Justice H.G. Balakrishna, former judge of the Karnataka High Court, said that injustice has been meted out to thousands of eligible voters who could not exercise their democratic right to vote. The Citizen”s Forum has urged the Commission to make arrange-ments for polling for the deprived voters before the commencement of the counting process. There are claims and counter-claims with respect to the winning party. Congress claims that 15 parli-amentary constituencies went on poll on April 20 and that the
Congress will win in 13 segments.
BJP president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, quoting the exit poll, said, “Not a single exit poll has sugges-ted that the people are in a mood to bring the Congress back to power.” He ascertained that his party would win in the Karnataka Assembly poll also. An exit poll shows that for assemblies in phase one, Congress has an edge over BJP in the state. However, the BJP leaders assessed that there is a clear indication of BJP-JD (U) victory because of the strong BJP wave throughout the country.
All eyes are on the Mysore Lok Sabha constituency, which went to poll on April 26. It will be a straight fight between the BJP and the Congress, since the JD(S) is fielding a weak candidate. A descendant of Mysore Royal family, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar is standing for the Congress, C.H. Vijaya Shankar for the BJP and A.S. Guruswamy for JD(S). The BJP is trying hard to capture the seat, which is a stronghold of Congress. Wodeyar, who entered politics two decades ago, enjoys the goodwill of the people. BJP candidate won the seat in 1998, but lost to Wodeyar in 1999 by a small margin. Vijaya Shankar, a Kuruba leader, is confident of winning over the Congress candidate since he enjoys the support from the tobacco-growing belt in Mysore region. Soraba Assembly constituency has acquired a lot of importance due to Bangarappa. The initial disappointment at Bangarappa joining the saffron party has somewhat vanished. People have accepted the change and decided to go with him. Therefore, regarding the parliamentary seat, the people have no two opinions. However, the Soraba Assembly seat, for which his two sons are contesting against each other, BJP against the Congress, people are in a confused state of mind. They admit that Kumar Bangarappa has done lots of developmental work as their sitting represen-tative. But the intense campaig-ning seems to have brought a transformation and Madhu Bangarappa of BJP has become acceptable to the people in the hope that he too, will show a greater potential and intelligence as a leader than his brother, more so since he has the support of his father, S. Bangarappa.
In Karnataka, polling was held for 13 Lok Sabha seats and 104 Assembly seats in the second phase of polling on April 26. As many as 751 candidates contested for the 104 seats. The Cauvery belt witnessed a triangular contest. It was a head-on tussle between the Congress and the BJP in north Karnataka, coastal and Malnad regions of Mangalore, Udupi, Karwar and Shimoga. BJP has definitely capitalised on the electoral tie-up with JD(U) in the north Karnataka region. Notable among the leaders who are contesting are former Prime Minister Deve Gowda (Hassan LS), former Chief Ministers S. Bangarappa (Shimoga LS) and M. Veerapa Moily (Mangalore). The others are B.L. Shankar (Chickmagalur LS), Margaret Alva (Kanwar), B.S. Yadiyurappa (Shikaripura) and K.S. Eshwa-rappa (Shimoga). The second phase of election in the state saw a little more than 60 per cent of the electorate exercising its franchise. Hassan and Chick-magalur parliamentary constitue-ncies recorded the highest polling (65 per cent). The lowest was in south Dharwad (51 per cent). An exit poll conducted by NDTV shows that BJP will win 20 Lok Sabha seats. The Karnataka Assembly elections were projected as going the NDA way. The alliance is expected to get 107-119 seats in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. In Bannur Assembly constituency, which comes under Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha constituency, about 3,000 villagers boycotted the election, as a protest against the Congress government'sfailure to provide the basic facilities such as drinking water, roads, schools, and primary health centres in spite of several representations. Karnataka BJP in-charge, while addressing reporters in Bangalore, said that his party would secure a comfortable majority in the Assembly polls. People of Karnataka have realised the damage done by the ruling Congress government. The Congress has been held guilty of misrule and corruption and apathy towards development of the state and the continued backwardness of the northern region.