Urban apathy and money power are the two major issues in the Karnataka Assembly polls, the schedule for which was announced by the Election Commission of India on Wednesday.
The 244-member Karnataka Assembly will go to the polls on May 10, while the counting of votes will be taken up on May 13.
After announcing the poll schedule, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar said that urban apathy and money power are the two major challenges in the poll-bound southern state.
Talking about urban apathy, the CEC said that voter turnout in some urban pockets has been lower than the state average in the past polls.
Kumar highlighted that the lowest voter turnout was recorded in the Bengaluru area - BBMP (South), BBMP (North), BBMP (Central), and Bangalore Urban - in the 2013 and 2018 state elections. These four districts in India's IT hub had recorded much less turnout than the state average.
He also mentioned the low voter turnout in the urban areas in the 2019 general elections, and more recently in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. The CEC underscored the need for focused interventions to create awareness through electoral literacy clubs in schools and colleges, and voter awareness fora in organisations and resident welfare associations (RWAs).
Keeping this in view, voting in the Karnataka polls has been scheduled on Wednesday (May 10), and not on Monday or Friday as parts of the urban population use these days as their extended weekends. Moreover, measures to engage professionals in the IT corridor and the knowledge industry have been planned, via an event similar to the Hackathon.
To curb the misuse of money power, the CEC informed that the ECI has made adequate arrangements and multiple agencies will be working in close coordination like the excise department, police, and commercial tax department, among others.
"We are strengthening our team in Karnataka to curb the use of money power in elections. There will be 2,400 static surveillance teams to keep strict vigil on 171 inter-state checkposts in 19 districts (sharing borders with other states)," he said.
As per the poll panel, there will be strict vigilance on bribery. Air intelligence will be deployed to keep vigil on unscheduled and chartered flights. Intelligence units will also monitor suspicious transactions in blind spots in cooperative banks and payment wallets.
Comprehensive instructions for the purpose of effective monitoring of the election expenditure of the candidates have been issued, which include deployment of expenditure observers, assistant expenditure observers, formation of flying squads, static surveillance teams, video surveillance teams, video viewing teams, accounts teams, media certification and monitoring committee etc.
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