Techies in Karnataka rarely come out and vote. Will the trend see any improvement this time around? Vicky Nanjappa reports.
The techies in Information Techology hub Bangalore and Mysore have often been accused of having an opinion but not coming out and voting.
There are 50 lakh people working in the IT sector in Karnataka, and these are spread over nearly 27 constituencies in Bangalore, Mysore and parts of Mangalore.
All political parties have realised the importance of wooing the voters from this sector and hence have gone on a major online campaign.
The Janata Dal-Secular, which till date had refused to even acknowledge the presence of Internet, too has majorly taken into online campaigning.
However, online campaign alone will not be sufficient to get these techies to the polling booths. Bangalore has had shameful voter turnout in the past few years. During the 2008 assembly elections the turnout was 44 per cent and during the general elections next year it was 47 per cent.
Ironically the techie turn out at the polling booths was just 20 per cent.
The IT community has been engaging itself in a lot of activities. On Saturday the IT and ITeS Employees Centre organised a debate and discussion with leaders of various political parties. The complaints addressed were slow down in the IT sector, safety of women workers, night shifts and also protection by companies to honour employee contracts.
Santhosh Hebbar, a techie from Bangalore, says that there is a need for their community to come out and vote. “I do agree that many of them have an opinion about governance, but the difference could only be made if they come out and vote. Clearly a majority has not even reached the polling booths during the last elections and this is shameful. There is a need for more awareness and people should be forced to go out and vote and election day should be made a compulsory holiday,” he also says.
Around Bangalore alone there are nearly 25 constituencies and the techie population is nearly 45 lakh. The community appears to be divided between their choice of party.
The JD-S has not appealed to them as yet and hence the choice is between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.
Although there is a great deal of Narendra Modi or ‘NaMo mania’ in the IT community of Bangalore, they would still not go entirely with the BJP for the assembly elections. But for the 2014 elections they would go all out and back the candidature of Narendra Modi, observers say.
However, for the Karnataka assembly elections 2013 it could be a tug of war between the Congress and the BJP. The BJP, which has depended a lot on the urban voter, will continue to try and capitalise on the same in Bangalore too.
The Congress, on the other hand, has roped in a savvy Anand Byre Gowda to woo this voter base. The Congress is also depending on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to woo the techie crowd during his rallies in Karnataka.
Former chief minister S M Krishna is another bet for the Congress. But current trends show that he is not a hit with the younger crowd when compared to the older ones.
Photograph: Vivek Prakash/Reuters