Citizen Matters Magazine – Vol 1 Issue 7
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Covering the elections anywhere in the world gives journalists a good, close look at the candidates and their campaigns. Here are some slices of our analysis from the Bengaluru contests.
First, the debates. Unfortunately, most candidates did not make use of the opportunity to respond as lawmakers, let alone lawmakers with vision. Many serious questions did not invite thoughtful, reasoned answers from the candidates of the major parties.
For one question on communal violence, Krishna Byregowda, INC candidate for Bangalore South, mouthed away a textbook response: “Hatred is the source of all ills…” K Uma of SUCI (Bangalore Central) kept on talking about starting a citizens’ movement for all the problems in the city. Some candidates – we noted this of Vijaya Bhaskar, Independent, and Vijay Raja Singh, BSP — simply restated the problems of society. There was plenty of rhetoric and blame going around. Capt. Gopinath (Independent) spoke passionately and did not look like he was very concerned about winning or losing.
Next, the campaigns. One clear problem across candidates of the major political parties was the disorganised nature of their campaigns. In many cases, it appears that candidates themselves were not deciding on their choices of media to interact with. We noted this for Sangliana and Byregowda. To make things worse, multiple persons or camps from within were determining the schedule.
Third, a note on women and the races. For the three major urban constituencies in Bangalore, less than half a dozen women were in the fray in a field of over eighty candidates. As far as the campaigns themselves went, we saw a substantial presence of women in Gopinath’s campaign, not in the others. That’s not a sign of progress.
Still, there’s plenty of good news going around. Mandatory disclosures have helped voters know so much more about their background than was possible a decade back. Voter interest, especially in the higher income groups is higher than ever this time, and least some high-stature independents will likely have increased voter turnout.
Remember that all the good we are seeing this election cycle will be called upon soon for the Bengaluru city council elections proposed for later this year. Those contests will more directly impact our local lives. Let’s not tune out.