Karnataka: Tourists Who Skipped Voting Were Shamed And Garlanded By Campaigners
Voting is an important tool of the democratic process which helps the people of a nation to voice their opinions and help shape the future of the country. It is not only the right but the responsibility of every citizen to go out and vote on polling day. Almost 200 people, who visited Chikkamagaluru on April 18, when 14 constituencies in Karnataka went to polls, were intercepted by activists conducting a voter sensitisation campaign.
What was the campaign?
According to The News Minute, owing to the long weekend, many people from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru visited Chikkamagaluru, a tourist spot in Karnataka. Groups of tourists were stopped near Magadi handpost. As a part of a campaign, “Vote Maadi, Pravasa Maadi” those who did not vote, but went for a quick getaway, were greeted in a unique style. Shawls and garlands with photocopies of Aadhaar card, PAN card, voter ID, ration card were used to greet the visitors.
In addition to this, activists, some of whom were journalists, educated visitors on the importance of exercising their franchise. It was only after the visitors pledged to vote in the next elections that their vehicle was allowed to pass. The president of Journalists Union (Chikkamagaluru) GM Rajashekhar said, “When people avail all the facilities from government, why can’t they vote? Some of them even argued that it was their choice not to vote and boasted that they had never voted, including in the recent Assembly elections. We intervened and said that their idea of freedom was skewed or doesn’t hold any merit unless they execute their responsibility first. They could have chosen NOTA if they didn’t like the candidate.”
Rajashekhar said that some of the visitors were not even aware that April 18 was a polling date. He added that as the day progressed, more and more people started visiting the tourist place and they were “honoured, thanked and congratulated” after they showed their ink-clad fingers. During the second phase of elections, among the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies which went for elections, Bengaluru city constituencies — Bengaluru Central, Bengaluru North and Bengaluru South — reportedly, saw the lowest voter turnout.
To stop holidaymakers from not voting on polling days in Karnataka (April 18 & 23), travel and tour operators in Mysuru had announced that they would deny taxi bookings for travellers. Poor turnout for the polls was expected in Bengaluru because of government holidays a day before and after the polls, which is again followed by the weekend. The homestays and resorts are trying to create awareness among citizens on the fact that voting is much more important than spending a holiday.
Soon after the polling dates were announced by the Election Commission, resorts and home stays in Sakleshpur stopped taking bookings for April 18. This is their bit to ensure that everyone takes part in the elections.
As responsible citizens, all of us must ensure to do our bit for the country by taking part in the elections. While many of us may think that a single vote cannot make a difference, these resorts and homestays are giving out a really important message: each vote counts.