May 04, 2013

Vote Maadi Bangalore!

Guess this. What do you think is B. PAC?

A upmarket gym or yet another special steering committee of a state government?

B. PAC is Bangalore Political Action Committee and is the new buzzword across the garden city.

The buzz is timed on the eve of elections to the Karnataka state Assembly this weekend.

Having spent two weekends in Bangalore, I got a feel of the election mood in this city.

Perhaps, for the first time many efforts are being made to get Bangaloreans to get involved in the elections and to take a closer look at candidates in the constituencies in the city and its fringes.

B. PAC has some high-profile Bangaloreans heading it including T V Mohandas Pai who chairs the Board of Manipal Global Education Services,, technocrat Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and former IAS officer Jairaj.

The buzz it created got its members on to TV channels and its developments reported in the dailies.

For good measure too.

With a huge population explosion and migrations, high contribution to the state's income and rapid civic development, this group sees the need for greater involvement in the socio-political process in the city.

It says its first focus is to make Bangaloreans get their names on the voter's list, and go out on polling day and vote.

Less than 50% of the city's voters cast their ballot in the last poll.

But the bigger problem is the mess that the voters lists are in. Thousands of names have been added, removed and struck off, so even the enterprising young voter ends up frustrated.

These pose bigger headaches to young people who have thrown their hats in the ring like Ashwin Mahesh, who holds a doctorate in geophysics and who is contesting on a Lok Satta party ticket and is the party's state head.

Ash has been deeply involved in working with the police/transport departments and contributing to major policy and civic projects of the city. And he wants to play a bigger role. This will be his second electoral foray and in the Bommanahalli constituency where is a candidate now, a mix of the rich and the migrant communities he says he has a good chance of getting elected.

The campaign has been local, focussed and enthusiastic but will the educated go out and vote for him and migrant trust his voice?

If there is one issue that can go against Ash it will be the messy voters' list. But I would like to see if his team's focused visits to over 10,000 homes worked.

B. PAC also 'endorsed' what it said were good candidates and offered funding. This drew a strong rip from a Left party. Others see the whole movement as elitist.

More key is this tendency, be it Bangalore or Chennai for small groups to get socially hyperactive only at crisis time or at election time.

Being political means that we be involved all the time.

But 'Vote Maadi' is still a good step forward.

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