Posts Tagged ‘Karnataka Elections’

After all, government work is not rain god’s work

22 May 2008

A vendor ducks for cover on Thursday afternoon as the rain gods openly and flagrantly ignore the Election Commission’s model code of conduct on the day of the third and final phase of polling in the elections to the Karnataka asssembly.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

BJP winning battle of opinion polls, hands down

22 May 2008

As the third and final phase of polling gets underway, two new pre-poll surveys are available for inspection.

# The first done by C-Fore for Suvarna News and aired on Monday night, says BJP will 96-106 seats out of 224, Congress 73-83 seats, and JDS 32-38.

# The second done by Development and Research Services for INX News says BJP will get 120 seats, followed by Congress 49, and JDS 42.

The sample size, the methodology, and the dates of the survey, all key requirements in reporting opinion polls, are not known. An NDTV exit poll, aired on May 16 after the second phase of polling, too had predicted that the BJP would come to power if the trend continued.

Dabbu dabbu dabbu dot namma election dot com

22 May 2008

Trilochan Shastry, convenor, Karnataka Election Watch, quoted in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“This election [in Karnataka] is all about big money. There has been a decisive shift where, instead of representing people, the candidates are representing their businesses. We can see builders, infrastructure developers, liquor barons and mine owners, each worth crores, in the fray. At this rate, it may soon change the way Indian democracy functions.”

Also read: Everybody is stark naked in the public bathroom

How to grow your assets by 81,465 per cent? Ask him

A CPM candidate’s assets jump by 7,393 per cent

CHURUMURI POLL: BJP 32, CONGRESS 25, JDS 11

21 May 2008

S.S. KARNADSHA and R. KANNAN write: Voters in 69 constituencies in eight districts of Karnataka will troop to the polling booths tomorrow in the third and final phase of voting in the elections to the state legislative assembly. And churumuri.com is pleased to present its third, amateur, grassroots look at how it will turn out for the parties.

Our score for the third round: BJP 32, Congress 25, JDS 11, independent 1.

Read in conjunction with our first two surveys, we are predicting, in all, 92 seats for the Congress, 84 for the BJP, and 41 for the JDS in Mandate 2008. Independents and others: 7. In a house of 224, with the halfway mark standing at 113, the State, according to us, is heading for a hung assembly.

Like in the first two surveys, here and here, one of us travelled to at least one constituency in each district (full methodology below). Unlike other opinion polls and pre-poll surveys, which only give a random seat count and do not even describe the methodology, we pinpoint the likely winners in each of the 69 constituencies.

Among our key findings in this round are:

# Team JarkiholiBalachandra, Satish, Ramesh—will triumph in three Belgaum constituencies.

# Actress Umashri will find it tough going in Terdal, but B.C. Patil is tipped to sneak through in Hirekerur.

# Former State BJP president Jagadish Shettar will win from Hubli-Dharwad central.

We will go wrong with some of the predictions, of course, but we will be delighted to be proved wrong and to be questioned and pilloried for it after the results are announced on May 25.

Our “hung assembly” findings are clearly in contrast to an NDTV-IMRB exit poll after the second round which says BJP could come to power, and a Suvarna News-Cfore survey, aired last night, which too hints at BJP gaining the upperhand.

***

BELGAUM: BJP 8, Congress 7, JDS 3

Nippani: Congress, Kakaso Pandurang Patil
Chikkodi-Sadalga: Congress, Hukkeri Prakash
Athani: BJP, Laxman Sangappa Savadi
Kagwad: BJP, Bharamgouda Alagouda Kage
Kudachi (SC): BJP, Mahendra K. Tammannavar
Raibag (SC): Congress, Omprakash S. Kanagali
Hukkeri: JDS, Umesh Vishwanath Katti
Arabhavi: JDS, Balachandra Laxmanrao Jarakiholi
Gokak: Congress, Jarkiholi Ramesh Laxmanrao
Yemkanmardi (ST): Congress, Jarkiholi Satish Laxmanrao
Belgaum North: JDS, Kudachi Ramesh Laxman
Belgaum South: BJP, Abhay Patil
Belgaum Rural: Congress, Malagi Shivputrappa Chanabasappa
Khanapur: Congress, Rafique Khatalsab Khanapuri
Kittur: BJP, Marihal Suresh Shivarudrappa
Bailhongal: BJP, Metgud Virupaxi (Jagadish) Channappa
Saundatti Yellamma: BJP, Mamani Vishwanath Chandrashekar
Ramdurg: BJP, Mahdevappa Shivalingappa Yadawad

***

BAGALKOT: BJP 6, JDS 1

Mudhol (SC): BJP, Govinda Karjol
Terdal: BJP, Siddu Savadi
Jamakhandi: BJP, Srikant Kulkarni
Bilgi: BJP, Murugesha Nirani
Badami: BJP, M.K. Pattanshetty
Bagalkot: JDS, P.H. Poojar
Hungund: BJP, Doddanagouda Patil

***

BIJAPUR: BJP 4, JDS 2, Congress 1, Independent 1

Muddebihal: JDS, Vimalabhai Deshmukh
Devar Hippargi: BJP, Basanagouda Yatnal
Basavana Bagewadi: BJP, S.K. Bellubi
Babaleshwar: Congress, M.B. Patil
Bijapur City: BJP, Appu Pattanashetty
Nagthan (SC): BJP, Vittala Katakadonda
Indi: Independent, Ravikanth Patil
Sindagi: JDS, M.C. Managoli

***

GULBARGA: Congress 8, JDS 3, BJP 2

Afzalpur: JDS, Tukaramagouda Patil
Jevargi: Congress, Dharam Singh
Surapur (ST): Congress, Raja Venkatappa Naik
Shahapur: JDS, Shivashekarappa Shiravala
Yadgir: Congress, A.B. Malaka Reddy
Gurmitkal: Congress, Baburao Chinchanasur
Chittapur (SC): Congress, Mallikarjuna Kharge
Sedam: Congress, Sharanaprakash Patil
Chincholi (SC): Congress, Baburao Chavan
Gulbarga Rural (SC): BJP, Revunayak Belamagi
Gulbarga South: BJP, Chandrashekara Patil
Gulbarga North: Congress, Qamarul Islam
Aland: JDS, Subhash Guttedar

***

BIDAR: BJP 3, Congress 2, JDS 1

Basavakalyan: BJP, Basavaraj Patil Attur
Humnabad: Congress, Rajashekar Patil
Bidar South: JDS, Bandeppa Kashempur
Bidar: Congress, Gurupadappa Nagamarapalli
Bhalki: BJP, Prakash Khandre
Aurad (SC): BJP, Prabhu Chavan

***

GADAG: Congress 2, BJP 1, JDS 1

Shirahatti (SC): JDS, Alkod Hanumantappa Yallappa
Gadag: Congress, H.K. Patil
Ron: Congress, Gurupadagouda Sanganagouda Patil
Nargund: BJP, C.C. Patil

***

DHARWAD: Congress 4, BJP 3, JDS 0

Navalgund: BJP, Shankar Patil Munenkoppa
Kundgol: Congress, Channabasappa Sathyappa Shivalli
Dharwad: Congress, Vinay Kulkarni
Hubli-Dharwad East (SC): BJP, Veerabhadrappa Halaharavi
Hubli-Dharwad Central: BJP, Jagadish Shettar
Hubli-Dharwad West: Congress, Honnalli Jabbar Khan Hayatakhan
Kalghatgi: Congress, Santosh S. Lad

***

HAVERI: BJP 5, Congress 1,

Hangal: BJP, Udasi Channabasappa Mahalingappa
Shiggaon: BJP, Basavaraj Bommai
Haveri (SC): BJP, Neharu Olekar
Byadgi: BJP, Patil Sureshgoudra Basalingagoudra
Hirekerur: Congress, B.C. Patil
Ranebenneur: BJP, G. Shivanna

***

METHODOLOGY: How did we crunch these numbers?

1. We went to at least one constituency in each of the districts going to the polls.

2. We studied the voting pattern of each constituency since 1978 using Election Commission data.

3. In the case of constituencies that have been newly created or spiked due to delimitation of seats, we have examined the chunks that have moved or have been clubbed together.

4. We have looked at each contesting candidate and have drawn a winnability graph keeping local factors in mind. Aspects like personal charisma, nurturing constituency with development projects, and also party-hopping have been factored in.

5. We have cross-checked our lists with strategists of all major political parties. We have discounted their claims when they have been bombastic and accommodated them when they have been realistic.

6. We have studied the percentage of votes polled by each party and the victory margins of all seats in the 2004 election. We have given the benefit of doubt to the runner up in 2004 elections if he has lost by a thin margin and is contesting again. In some cases it is the runner up political party that gets this advantage although they have changed the candidate.

7. Due to the strict EC poll code we have given very little chance to new faces and parties entering a constituency for the first time. We believe that the process of new faces or new parties getting registered in the minds of voters has not happened.

8. We have checked the BSP factor by looking at their presence and performance in all constituencies in the 2004 elections.

9. Although there is a close contest in some constituencies we stick our head out and give only name per constituency.

When Puravankara says Jayakar Jerome zindabad

19 May 2008

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: It is perhaps a sign of the times when nothing shocks or surprises us any more. Or perhaps a sign that the line between public and private is fast disappearing in post-liberal, anything-goes India.

Or perhaps not.

Jayakar Jerome, the former commissioner of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), has joined a leading developer in Bangalore, barely two years after his retirement from service—and true to a City where only 44 out of 100 voted, there has scarcely been a whimper of possible conflict of interest.

Jerome, an IAS officer of the 1983 batch, earned plenty of good press—thanks to the deft handout of “G” category sites to journalists and “journalists”—during S.M. Krishna‘s regime when he was credited with having resurrected a moribund BDA and giving it a good name.

As one blogger wrote at the time:

“Once considered highly corrupt and destined for the boondocks, BDA was resurrected, revamped, cleansed, organised, professionalised by a dedicated Jerome and his team. Land sharks, who once ruled the roost, were stamped down as was corrupt BDA staffs, who hitherto, were a law unto themselves.”

When the Congress-JDS coalition government of Dharam Singh transferred him, allegedly at the behest of H.D. Deve Gowda & Sons, Krishna, who had been sinecured to Bombay as governor of Maharashtra, sought Jerome’s services as his secretary.

Jerome who was deputed there, retired in that post in May 2006. (When a World Bank report called Karnataka (under Krishna) “the most corrupt State in India in 2004″, it was secretary Jerome who released a WB clarification to the contrary.)

“He was one of the finest officers I have seen in terms of conceptualising and implementation. To my mind, he would rank in the top 2 per cent of India’s bureaucracy,” Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy said in an Indian Express interview.

But, in 2008, with a new government barely a fortnight away from being sworn in in the State, how appropriate is it for Jayakar Jerome to join Puravankara, the realty major whose rise into the real estate limelight in Bangalore roughly coincided with its rise as an IT City under the benign gaze of S.M. Krishna?

According to a report in The Economic Times, Jerome, a sixth-generation Bangalorean born in Richards Town, will spearhead Puravankara’s proposed infrastructure foray.

“The Purvankara Group is looking to set up separate subsidiaries for infrastructure, hospitality as well as low-income housing. Mr Jerome is likely to head the infrastructure division,” a source told the paper.

For the record, former Times group president Pradeep Guha is a director on the Puravankara board, as are two IT mascots, Jaithirth Jerry Rao and Ravi Ramu of Mphasis BFL.

To be fair to Jerome, there has been a “cooling-off” period of two years from the day of his retirement in March 2006, and a full four years since he left BDA, before his lurch towards Puravankara. So he is probably not carrying any of the short-term “state secrets” from BDA that might benefit his future employer unlike, say, Rathikant Basu who left Doordarshan one day and was with Rupert Murdoch‘s Star Television the next.

Or Vivek Kulkarni, who was IT secretary one day, and heading an IT company the next.

Moreover, if scientists and researchers can leave our sensitive laboratories for greener pastures, what is to prevent a former bureaucrat from making the most of the remainder of his serviceable years, especially when the city of his birth needs it the most?

And to be fair to Puravankara, if they were smart enough (and rich enough) to hire Jerome’s services, why should it be held against them? After all, if recently retired cops can stand for elections like Subhash Bharani and recently retired bureaucrats like N.K. Singh can become “consultants” to all manner of corporates, why should Jerome not lend his services in his area of expertise?

If expertise is the core determinant of Jerome’s recent employment, the jury is still out.

Jerome was credited with designing HSR Layout—destination of the super rich and the home several of the “G” category media beneficiaries. The media went to town about the project. However, it took just one season of heavy rains in 2005 to reveal the planning that had gone into the project. BDA blamed poor designing and location.

OK, maybe Jerome’s expertise, like Abdul Kalam‘s, is in “man-management”.

Still, in a City whose most prized jewel is its real estate, the fact that a BDA chief can now comfortably sup and cohabit with a high-profile developer with deep pockets—with whom he would have certainly dealt with in his four-year and nine-month term—without a single political or analytical eyebrow going up, doesn’t augur well.

Jayakar Jerome may be as honest, competent and efficient as he has been painted to be. But what is to prevent his underlings from picking up a cue and lubricating their way with builders, developers and other land sharks into lucrative future employment?

Photograph: S.M. Krishna (left) with Jayakar Jerome at the dedication of the Hebbal flyover (Karnataka Photo News)

‘6 reasons why Congress won’t win in Karnataka’

19 May 2008

G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, the man who heads Development and Research Services (DRS), the polling agency that has predicted a rosier performance for the BJP than the BJP’s own internal poll, has a piece in today’s Mint on why he thinks Congress will lose in the Karnataka assembly elections.

Reason #1: Congress’ inability to be seen as a party that can provide a popular, pro-people government.

Reason #2: Congress’ inability to take along Vokkaligas and Lingayats. Rao says two-thirds of Lingayats voted for the BJP while 43% Vokkaligas supported JD(S).

Reason #3: Congress’ inability to amass the votes of the scheduled castes and tribes, who constitute a quarter of the electorate, in the face of the BSP.

Reason #4: Rainbow leadership without draw. S.M. Krishna hasn’t consolidated Vokkaliga votes. Mallikarjuna Kharge hasn’t ensured Dalit votes.

Reason #5: Muslims indulged in tactical voting and didn’t always vote for the Congress, often times hitching their wagon to the JDS.

Reason #6: Lacklustre campaign without focus. No national or State leader campaigned extensively.

Read the full article: 6 reasons why Congress will lose in Karnataka

Spot the six differences in these two photographs

18 May 2008

Nothing conveys the failure of Indian governance better than the sight of well-fed politicians (and calorie-conscious administrators) shamelessly glugging packaged drinking water while women and girls wake up at obscene hours to book their spots in queues, or to lug pots and buckets across miles, to wash, cook and bathe.

Here, “the doyen of dalits”, Mallikarjuna Kharge unbashedly slakes his thirst at a Sonia Gandhi rally in Gulbarga on Saturday by sucking a multinational bottle, while (right) a woman in Bangalore steps on the treadmill of drudgery to fetch a few cans, little knowing if those whom she voted have already pledged to privatise supply of the liquid of life.

What are the six differences you can spot in these two pictures?

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: How our commies have their cake and eat it too

A CPM candidate’s assets jump by 7,393 per cent

18 May 2008

Of the 415 candidates in the 69 constituencies going to the polls on May 22 in the third and final phase of elections to the Karnataka legislative assembly, there are 36 candidates with a criminal record, 23 women, and total declared assets of Rs 650 crore, according to a report prepared by the Karnataka Election Watch committee of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The BJP has 12 candidates with a criminal record, JDS 7, Congress 6, and other parties 11. There are 5 candidates who are charged with murder or attempt to murder. Several of them are charged with other violent crimes like assault with deadly weapons and so on.

Of the 23 women candidates, the JDS has 6, JDU 6, BSP 3, Congress 3, and BJP 2, and others 3. The total percentage of women in phase 3 is about 5.5% and is extremely low. None of the women candidates have any criminal cases against them. The average assets of women candidates is Rs 90 lakh.

In the first phase there were 17 women candidates and in the second phase 14 women candidates from the major parties. Which means, in all, the major parties which talk of 33 per cent reservation for women, could only put up 54 women candidates. In contrast, they put up 132 candidates with a criminal past.

Congress candidates have declared assets of Rs 347 crore and average candidate assets of Rs 5.03 crore. BJP candidates have total assets of Rs 155 crores at an average of Rs 2.26 crore, JDS candidates have Rs 84 crore and an average of Rs.1.22 crore, and BSP candidates Rs 35 crore at Rs 0.52 crore.

The three major parties account for 89.2% of total candidate assets with average candidate assets of Rs.2.83 crores. Clearly, elections have become a rich man’s game. It is very difficult for Independent candidates to win and the major parties give tickets to candidates with very high level of assets.

There are 24 candidates who have “High Assets” over Rs 5 crore. The Congress has 13 candidates, BJP has 8, JDS 2, and BSP 1. There are 41 candidates who have declared very low assets of Rs 1 lakh or less. The total liabilities of all candidates were Rs 75.19 crore. The Congress candidates had liabilities of Rs.37.22 crore, BJP candidates Rs 15.79 crore, JDS candidates Rs 13.97 crore, and others Rs 8.21 crore.

As many as 69 candidates reported a very steep increase in total assets between the 2004 assembly elections and this election. The average increase in assets was a huge 339.5%.

# Prakash Ramachandra Shirolkar, the SHS candidate from Belgaum south, has seen his assets jump by 10,065 per cent in the last four years.

# Maruti Manapade (in picture, standing), the CPM candidate from Gulbarga rural, has seen his assets jump by 7,393 per cent, from Rs 0 in 2004 to Rs 20 lakh in 2008.

# Ajaykumar Sarnayak, the Congress candidate from Bilgi, has declared an increase in assets between of 2,181 per cent.

# Rajkumar Patil Telkur, the BJP candidate from Sedam, has seen his assets jump by 1,990 per cent.

KEW conclusion: The overall quality of candidates leaves much to be desired. The criminal records in particular are a little alarming. Unless this trend is checked, elections, democracy and overall governance will suffer. A lot of candidates are industrialists from the real estate, liquor, mining and other businesses. Unless business interests are aligned to citizen interests there is a clear conflict of interest. Would such representatives work for citizens’ interests or for their business interests? The average assets of candidates from the major parties were Rs 2.84 crores. A lot of candidates have reported huge increase in their assets from the previous elections. This means that elections are mostly open to the rich and that the stakes are very high and rising from election to election. The steep rise in assets also needs to be investigated so that public trust is restored.

(Karnataka Election Watch is part of a nationwide movement to improve democracy. It is a citizen led non-political, non-partisan effort. This time several NGOs activists and civil society organizations in Karnataka are participating in this effort.)

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: How to grow your assets by 81,465 per cent ? Ask him.

Everybody is stark naked in the public bathroom

On humble earth, God proposes, Gowda disposes

17 May 2008

From television studios in Delhi to advertising agencies in Bombay—and the drawing rooms of Bangalore—unanimous conclusions are being reached over caviar and foie gras that Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda is the kaddi in the Karnataka kabab. But can the former prime minister be written off so easily, exit poll or no exit poll?

Photograph: via V.R. Chandar

NDTV EXIT POLL: BJP en route to forming govt.

16 May 2008

An exit poll of the second phase of the elections held today conducted by NDTV says the BJP will get betweeen 32-42 seats, Congress 15-20, JDS 8-12. If the trend continues, Prannoy Roy says the BJP may be able to form the government on its own. The fieldwork for this poll was done by IMRB in 22 constituencies with a sample size of 9,447.

However, another exit poll conducted for Suvarna News, New Indian Express and Kannada Prabha, says BJP will walk away with 35 of the 66 seats which went to the polls, followed by Congress with 20, JDS with 8 seats, others 3. The exit poll was conducted by C-Fore in 50 constituencies and the sample size was around 7,000. By its reckoning, it’s going to be neck and neck between Congress and BJP.

The C-Fore poll says:

# In Hyderabad-Karnataka, of the 13 seats, the BJP will get 7 seats, Congress 3, JDS 2, others 1.

# In central Karnataka, of the 32 seats, BJP will get 14 seats, Congress will get 10, JDS 6, others 2.

# In coastal Karnataka, of the 21 seats, BJP will get 14 seats, Congress 7.

An NDTV exit poll of the 89 seats in the first phase of elections had predicted BJP will get 31 seats, JDS 30, and Congress 23. Together with the second exit poll, the BJP will end up with 63-73 seats, Congress 38-43 seats, and JDS  38-42 seats. Which means, of the 69 seats that go to the polls in the third and final phase of polling, the BJP will have to bag a minimum of 41-51 seats to form a  government on its own.

A C-Fore exit poll of the 89 seats in the first phase had predicted 39-42 seats for the Congress, 24-27 for the BJP, 20-23 for the JDS. Read together, the BJP will end up with 61 seats from the first two phases, Congress with 60, and JDS with 29. Which means, of the 69 seats that go to polls in the third and final phase of polling, the BJP will have to bag a minimum of 53 and the Congress with 54 each to form a government on their own.

How to grow your assets by 81,465%? Ask him.

16 May 2008

In the 66 constituencies going to the polls today in the second phase of elections to the Karnataka legislative assembly, there are just 14 women candidates; 49 candidates with a criminal record; and 372 candidates whose assets in all exceed Rs 902 crore, according to a report prepared by the Karnataka Election Watch committee of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Among the major parties, the BJP has 13 candidates with a criminal record, the Congress 9, JDS 8, BSP 7, and other parties 12. There are 6 candidates who are charged with murder or attempt to murder.

There are 14 women candidates. The BSP has 4, BJP 2, Congress 2, JDS 2, JDU 2 and others 2. In the first phase there were a total of 17 women candidates from the major parties for the 89 constituencies. The total percentage of women is less than 5% as in the first phase.

The total assets declared by all the 372 candidates considered by KEW for phase 2 was an impressive Rs 902 crore, with average candidate assets of Rs 2.42 crore. The Congress led the parties with total declared candidate assets of Rs 470 crore and average candidate assets of Rs 7.35 crore. The BJP candidates had total assets of Rs 249.8 crores and average of Rs.3.78 crore; JDS Rs 77.9 crore and Rs.1.28 crore; BSP Rs 40.6 crore and Rs.0.64 crore.

The three major parties account for 88.5% of total candidate assets with average candidate assets of Rs.4.18 crores. Clearly, elections have become a rich man’s game. There are 5 candidates who have declared “Very High” assets of over Rs 30 crore. Of these, 3 are from the Congress, 2 are from the BJP. Compared to phase 1 which included Bangalore, the number has come down from 14 to 5.

# Anil Lad of the Congress is the richest among the candidates in the fray with declared assets of Rs 172 crore, jumping 2,343 per cent since 2004.

# R.V. Deshpande of the Congress, whose assets since 2004 have jumped 2,091 per cent, has declared assets of Rs 116.29 crore.

# The assets of G.S. Manjunath, the BJP candidate from Chitradurga, have shot up by an eye-popping 2,125 per cent since the 2004 elections.

# The BJP candidate from Holalkere, M. Chandrappa, has seen his assets grow by 2,107 per cent. The assets of his Congress rival H. Anjaneya (in picture) have grown by—hold your breath—81,465 per cent, according to KEW.

Then there are 17 candidates who have “High Assets” between Rs 5 crore and Rs 30 crore. In spite of having such high assets, some of them have not declared their IT PAN numbers as required by the Election Commission.

As many as 74 candidates reported a very steep increase in total assets between the 2004 Assembly Elections and this election. The average increase in assets was a huge 465.6%.

There are 49 candidates with a criminal record. Among the major parties, the BJP has 13 candidates having a criminal record, BSP has 7, the Congress 9, JDS 8, and other parties 12. There are 6 candidates who are charged with murder or attempt to murder.

Of the 372 candidates considered in phase 2, 31 had post-graduate degrees, 26 had technical degrees (like BE, etc), 6 MBBS, 47 LLB, 97 graduates, 48 PUC, 49 matriculates, 35 non-matriculates. The rest did not mention their educational qualifications. The number of candidates who were 60 years old or more was 41, between 45 and 60 was 171, and less than 45 was 160.

KEW’s conclusion: The overall quality of candidates leaves much to be desired. The criminal records in particular are a little alarming. Unless this trend is checked, elections, democracy and overall governance will suffer. A lot of candidates are industrialists from the real estate, liquor, mining and other businesses. Unless business interests are aligned to citizen interests this raises interesting questions about governance and democracy. The average assets of candidates from the major parties was Rs.4.18 crores which means that the parties have turned their back on candidates with low assets. A lot of candidates have reported huge increase in their assets. This also needs to be investigated so that public trust is restored.

(Karnataka Election Watch (KEW) is part of a nationwide movement to improve democracy. It is a citizen-led non-political, non-partisan effort. This time several NGOs activists and civil society organizations in Karnataka are participating in this effort.)

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

‘IT is economically important but electorally not’

16 May 2008

Swapan Dasgupta writes in The Telegraph, Calcutta, that by taking its cue from IT honchos and by directing its ads at “non-voting classes”, the Congress in Karnataka appears to have lost sight of the fact that while IT is economically important, it is electorally a big zero:

“For the Congress the stakes are very high. A win in Karnataka will rejuvenate a tired Manmohan Singh government in Delhi. It is calculated to galvanize Congress activists in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi which vote in December. There is even a suggestion that a good Karnataka result could resuscitate the Indo-US nuclear deal and trigger an early general election.

“For the BJP, Karnataka is an important test of its national credentials. It has sought to blend anti-incumbency against the Centre with an indictment of 50 years of Congress rule in Karnataka…. If the BJP performs well in Karnataka and forms a government, it will reinforce the importance of strong regional leaders in the party. As the epicentre of contrariness, Karnataka may contribute immeasurably to the transformation of the BJP from being a Delhi-controlled party to a more federal outfit.”

Read the full article: The contrary state

Also read: Who are the IT guys backing in poll?

And don’t forget the fact that it’s a Saturday

CHURUMURI POLL: BJP 31, CONGRESS 26, JDS 9

15 May 2008

R. KANNAN and S.S. KARNADSHA write: Voters in 66 constituencies in 10 districts go to the polls tomorrow in the second phase of the elections to the Karnataka Assembly. And churumuri.com is pleased to offer its second, amateur, grassroots survey of how it is likely to turn out for the parties.

Our short term reading: BJP 31, Congress, 26, JDS 9.

Our medium term prediction: It’s going to be a hung assembly.

Like in the first churumuri.com survey (see full methodology below), we travelled to at least one constituency in six of the 10 districts going to the polls tomorrow. For the other districts, we relied on a variety of sources over the telephone, and also took into account media reports.

Unlike other opinion polls and pre-poll surveys, which only give a random seat count, we pinpoint the likely winners in each of the 66 constituencies.

Among our key findings are:

# It is going to be 50-50 for the Congress and the BJP in the communally hot coastal districts despite Narendra Modi‘s campaign, and a CNN-IBN-CSDS-Deccan Herald finding.

# B.S. Yediyurappa looks more likely to overcome S. Bangarappa in the battle of former chief ministers in Shikaripura despite Congress and JDS not putting up candidates.

# M.P. Prakash the former deputy chief minister, who hopped over to the Congress from JDS is likely to be trounced in Harapanahalli.

# Mine baron Anil Lad is unlikely to break the stranglehold of the Reddy brothers in Bellary city despite his jump to the Congress and Diwakar Babu‘s return to the party.

# M.P. Renukacharya is set to return to the assembly from Honnali despite the scandal surrounding his involvement in the nurse Jayalakshmi.

By our reckoning, after the first two phases of polling, the Congress will end up with 67 seats, the BJP with 52, and JDS 30. The half-way mark in the 224-member Karnataka assembly is 114. Which means of the remaining 69 seats in the third and final phase of polling, the Congress will have to bag 47 and the BJP 62 to form a government on their own.

Which also means JDS, which has 30 seats from the first two phases by our count, will again play a very key role in the formation of the next government, as predicted by H.D. Deve Gowda. Either one of the two big parties will have to swallow its pride and tie up with it again, or there will have to be defections en masse from the JDS ranks.

Only Suvarna News (through C-Fore) has conducted an exit poll of the first phase and a pre-poll survey of the second phase. By C-Fore’s reckoning, Congress will end up with between 59-67 seats, BJP 60-66, and JDS 25-31 at the end of the two phases of polling. By that count, Congress have have to bag 47 of the remaining 69, and BJP 44.

Statistically, anything is possible, but how likely?

***

CHITRADURGA: Congress 4, JDS 2

Chitradurga: Congress, G.H. Tippa Reddy
Hosadurga: Congress, B.G. Govindappa
Hiriyur: JDS, D. Yashodhara
Challakere (ST): Congress, Sashikumar
Molkalmuru (ST): JDS, G.M. Tippeswamy
Holalkere (SC): Congress, H Anjaneya

***

BELLARY: Congress 3, BJP 6

Bellary (ST): BJP, B Sriramulu
Hadagali (SC): Congress, P.T. Parameshwara Naik
Hagaribommanahalli (SC): BJP, Nemiraj Naik
Vijayanagar: Congress, H.R. Gaviappa
Sandur (ST): Congress, E. Tukaram
Siraguppa (ST): BJP, M.S. Somalingappa
Bellary city: BJP, G. Somashekara Reddy
Kampli (ST): BJP, T.H. Suresh Babu
Kudligi (ST): BJP, B. Nagendra

***

DAVANAGERE: Congress 3, BJP 5

Jagalur (ST): BJP, H.P. Rajesh
Harapanahalli: BJP, G. Karunakara Reddy
Honnali: BJP, M.P. Renukacharya
Davangere North: BJP, H.A. Ravindranath
Davangere South: Congress, Shamanur Shivashankarappa
Mayakonda (SC): BJP, Basava Raja Naik
Harihar: Congress, Dr. Y. Nagappa
Chennagiri: Congress, Vadnal Rajanna

***

SHIMOGA: Congress 3, BJP 3, JD(S) 1

Shimoga rural (SC): Congress, Kariyanna
Shimoga: BJP, K.S. Eswarappa
Bhadravathi: JDS, Appaji M.J.
Soraba: Congress, Kumar Bangarappa
Tirthahalli: BJP , Araga Gnanedra
Shikaripura : BJP, B.S. Yediyurappa
Sagar: Congress, Kagodu Thimmappa

***

CHIKMAGALUR: BJP 4, JDS 1

Sringeri: BJP, D.N. Jeevaraj
Moodigere (SC): BJP, M.P. Kumaraswamy
Chikmagalur : BJP , C.T. Ravi
Tarikere: JDS, H. Omkarappa
Kadur: BJP, Dr. Vishwanath

***

UTTARA KANNADA: Congress 3; BJP 3

Haliyal: Congress, R.V. Deshpande
Kumta: BJP, Sashibhooshan Hegde
Karwar: Congress, Anand Asnotikar
Bhatkal: Congress, J.D. Naik
Sirsi: BJP, Vishweshwara Hegde
Yellapur: BJP, Veerabhadra Gowda Patil

***

DAKSHINA KANNADA: BJP 4, Congress 3, JDS 1

Belthangady: Congress, Vasanth Bangera
Moodabidiri : JDS, K. Amaranatha Shetty
Mangalore City North: BJP , Krishna Palemar
Mangalore City South: BJP, N. Yogeesh Bhat
Mangalore: Congress, U.T. Khader
Bantwal: BJP, Nagaraja Shetty
Puttur: Congress, Bondala Jaganatha Shetty
Sullia (SC): BJP , S. Angara

***

UDUPI: Congress 2, BJP 3

Baindur: BJP, K. Lakshminarayana
Kundapura: Congress, K. Jayaprakash Hegde
Udupi: BJP, Raghupathi Bhat
Kapu: Congress, Vasanth Saliyan
Karkala: BJP, V. Sunil Kumar

***

RAICHUR: Congress 3, BJP 1, JDS 3

Raichur rural (ST): JDS, Raja Rangappa Naik
Raichur: BJP, A. Papa Reddy
Manvi: Congress (ST), G. Hampaiah
Devdurga (ST): JDS, Shivana Gowda
Maski (ST): Congress, Timappa
Lingasagur (SC): JDS, T.L. Naik
Sindhanur: Congress, Hampanagouda Badarli

***

KOPPAL: Congress 2, BJP 2, JDS 1

Kushtagi: Congress, Amaregouda Byappur
Gangavati: JDS, Iqbal Ansari
Yelaburga: Congress, Basavaraj Rayareddy
Kanakagiri (SC): BJP, Shamanna Hulagappa Narinala
Koppal: BJP, Andanappa Agadi

***

METHODOLOGY: How did we crunch these numbers?

1. We went to at least one constituency in six of the 10 districts.

2. We studied the voting pattern of each constituency since 1978 using Election Commission data.

3. In the case of constituencies that have been newly created or spiked due to delimitation of seats, we have examined the chunks that have moved or have been clubbed together.

4. We have looked at each contesting candidate and have drawn a winnability graph keeping local factors in mind. Aspects like personal charisma, nurturing constituency with development projects, and also party-hopping have been factored in.

5. We have cross-checked our lists with strategists of all major political parties. We have discounted their claims when they have been bombastic and accommodated them when they have been realistic.

6. We have studied the percentage of votes polled by each party and the victory margins of all seats in the 2004 election. We have given the benefit of doubt to the runner up in 2004 elections if he has lost by a thin margin and is contesting again. In some cases it is the runner up political party that gets this advantage although they have changed the candidate.

7. Due to the strict EC poll code we have given very little chance to new faces and parties entering a constituency for the first time. We believe that the process of new faces or new parties getting registered in the minds of voters has not happened.

8. We have checked the BSP factor by looking at their presence and performance in all constituencies in the 2004 elections.

9. Although there is a close contest in some constituencies we stick our head out and give only name per constituency.

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Congress 41, BJP 21, JDS 21

Red or white, Bangarappa is ready to fight

15 May 2008

E.P. Unny, the political cartoonist of The Indian Express, is on the campaign trail in Karnataka, drawing realtime sketches, and turning in insights in prose which itinerant political reporters and correspondents all seem to have decided is beneath them.

From a rally in Anavatti in Shimoga, where S. Bangarappa is campaigning for younger son Madhu Bangarappa against his elder son Kumar Bangarappa, Unny writes:

“Even as the Dad & Darling Son Show gets going, part of the gathering switches towards the helicopter. Evidently the flying machine is a lot more appealing than the bicycle, Bangarappa’s party symbol. Many in the crowd including the ones who turn chopper-wards are wearing a red cap with the bicycle graphic on it.

“One such cap is handed over to Bangarappa as he ascends the dais. He fidgets with it for a while, keeps it aside and sits down to comb his hair. Why should he conceal his fine crop of jet-black hair? Nearly as old as Deve Gowda, at 76, among the many things he has defied is age. Not that he should have any ideological qualms about the red cap itself.

“When the colour runs, it could turn into a lily white Congress cap.”

Read the full article: Battle of the brothers, father thrown in

Don’t laugh at joke of the year, decade, century

15 May 2008

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: The Election Commission may be harbouring under the belief that it has been able to curb the flow of money in the current election through the strict implementation of the model code of conduct.

And the middle-classes may be thrilled to bits that election expenditure has been brought down considerably. But ask serious candidates in the fray and they will tell you that the situation is exact opposite.

Neither has money circulation come down nor is there any drop in the expenses.

In fact, the situation is otherwise.

Many of the candidates feel that election expenses are on the rise despite, possibly because of, the model code. Instead of the old system, where the candidates had accounts in select bars and hotels for meeting the expenses of hangers on, the latter now want their pound of flesh in cash.

“Give us the money and we make our own expenses,” is their new mantra, and the candidates are hardly in a position to say no.

In previous elections, especially pre-1994, “Kattala Raat” (the dark night)—the 48 hours from the end of campaigning to the beginning of polling—was the sunrise period as parties and politicians dangled a variety of blandishments to get voters to plump for them.

But after T.N. Seshan‘s model of conduct came into force, the “Kattala Raat” dawns much earlier. The nefarious activities are no longer confined to the last 48 hours before the close of poll as it used to be earlier. “Now every day is a Kattala Raat, where the money has to flow” say the candidates.

During the visit of L.K. Advani, the question arose as to where the curbs placed by the EC had brought down the expenditure. “No, Sir, it has gone up instead” was the refrain of many a candidate who met the BJP leader.

This impression is also shared by the Congress, where in some places money power continues to be openly flaunted, curbs or no curbs by the Election Commission, and the candidates are getting away, much to the chagrin of others in the field.

***

Ravi Krishna Reddy, the NRI techie who stood as an independent candidate from the Jayanagar constituency in Bangalore, has meanwhile written to the Election Commission on the issue.

To:
Chief Electoral Officer
(Karnataka State)
DPAR (Elections), Old KGID Building Annexe
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Veedhi
Bangalore – 560 001

Subject: Cruel Joke of Election Expenditure Limit and Distortion of Poll Symbol by Election Commission

Dear Sir,

I, Ravi Krishna Reddy, contested from Jayanagar constituency as an independent candidate to protest against immoral and unethical political practices, and the growing use of money power in Karnataka’s democracy.

My candidature was meant to show that there is place for an alternative model of electoral politics, which is legal, ethical and value based.

When there are innumerable examples of MLA candidates spending crores of rupees for just an assembly election, I was convinced that the only way to fight these illegal and unethical practices was by public participation and fighting the election with public funding.

I had raised Rs. 4,22,000 (approx) from the public, starting with Rs. 10 donated by a 70-year-old, poor woman of Ragigudda jhopadi, to 105 other Indian donors from across the world. To this, I added my own contribution of Rs. 23,000. In all, I spent Rs. 4,45,291 for the election.

Hope you, too, have noticed this as this information was made public as soon as the election was over.

My preamble is relevant because I am told by officials in the Jayanagar constituencys Returning Office that I am the only candidate who spent more than Rs 4 lakh in this constituency! According to them, all the other candidates have shown their expenses to be less than 4 lakhs!

I ask in wonder: how is this possible?

Because, I have seen rallies taken out by political parties in this constituency, with hundreds of workers, on multiple occasions. On two occasions, I myself witnessed rallies at Jayanagar shopping complex in which the current MP waving at the public from the rooftop of a van. Hundreds of daily-wage workers, many four-wheelers, and innumerable motor bikes were all part of this procession.

I was also present in the same premises when a candidate was having lunch with hundreds of poor, daily-wage workers inside a big marriage hall. Special, colorful, expensive handbills and booklets were distributed by the candidates all across the constituency.

Isn’t it a cruel joke to say that even after all these expenses, none of the candidates have spent more than Rs 4 lakh?

Hasn’t the EC officials taken videos of these processions and noticed the publicity materials of the candidates and its worth?

After noticing all this, I strongly believe that the Election Commission has not fulfilled its duty responsibly and legally. Without keeping a tab on candidates expenses, I believe EC has sent an open message to all the candidates across the country and that message is: Spend as much as you want, but let your expense returns be within Rs 10 lakh. We do not verify any details. The ceiling of 10 lakhs is just on paper and is of no significance whatsoever.

I am concerned that the EC is not taking any measures to enforce the expenditure limits and this legal limit is a farce. I have to say with deep regret that EC is not doing any justice to law-abiding citizens of India, who want to contest the elections, rightfully and legally.

At this moment, at least for the third phase of elections, I strongly urge you to deploy observers behind candidates and their workers to make sure that they won’t cross the expenditure ceiling, and thereby provide justice to the candidates who respect and abide by the law.

***

Along with this, I also would like to draw your attention towards the complaint that I have lodged with the RO of Jayanagar constituency. The EC allotted “Nagara” as my poll symbol. But, the symbol that was printed on the ballot box of EVM was something else. We spent almost Rs. 30,000 for street plays and the display of actual Nagaras.

We organized these street plays in the constituency where low-income, uneducated voters are in large numbers. (As a matter of fact, some of the Tamil speaking voters were constantly reminding us that ‘Nagara‘ is the symbol of one of Tamil Nadu’s political parties.) But, on the day of the election, the symbol that was on the ballot box next to my name was something other than the officially allotted ‘Nagara‘ symbol.

Some news reports quoted the RO as saying, “It is not a major blunder.”

I strongly protest against this kind of irresponsible statement. This was an error and the RO should have considered what the law says for such a situation, instead of opining whether it is a major or minor blunder.

So, hereby I request you to kindly let me know what measures you have taken. Otherwise, I may have to consider exploring my legal options. Before I take that extreme measure, I believe getting these details and being educated by you regarding my choices are within my rights.

The fact that I was the candidate who has spent the maximum amount of money in this constituency and this campaign was run by the hard-earned money of ordinary people compels me morally to demand answers and seek justice.

Sincerely

Ravi Krishna Reddy
Independent Candidate
Jayanagar Assembly Constituency
Karnataka

Also read: Is every election null and void even before the poll?

My dear IT brothers and sisters of Karnataka

Shame in the land of Krishna, Cauvery and Kabini

14 May 2008

Drinking water is the main issue before the people of Karnataka, as evidenced by one of the opinion polls, and as this woman pedalling to fetch a few buckets in K.R. Puram in Bangalore will vouch. But how many parties, and how many politicians, and how many anchors and analysts, are talking of it as the airwaves are grabbed by  amorphous and abstract formulations in the election season?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

An UNFIT government is what we are going to get

14 May 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I saw the Ace Political Expert (APE) at the entrance of the Press Club. Since APE is in great demand in the election season and hard to get, here is an opportunity not to be missed, I thought. He agreed to join me and we sat in a quiet corner.

I called the waiter to place our order.

“I will have Black Dog whisky with ice. No soda,” APE told the bearer. I was surprised. APE is normally a fish in a beer bowl. I ordered Vijay Mallya‘s Kingfisher for myself; chicken tikka and salted peanuts as accompaniments completed the orchestra.

After couple of sips, I asked APE: “Who do you think will win this election?”

APE took a swig from the second glass of whisky, thought for a while and said, “It’s got to be Congress this time. Yuvraj, sorry Rahul, himself came and campaigned this time. If you add that to Rs 60,000 crore announced by Chidambaram and factor in Ambika Soni‘s promise of classical status for Karnataka, it’s Congress all the way. No doubt about this.”

I was amazed at the power of his acumen—the power to see through and connect seemingly unrelated events.

The waiter sauntered along. Before I could bark “repeat”, APE ordered XXX rum, double. I asked for Kingfisher again, keeping in mind the losses incurred by Mallya through his Royal Challengers. I didn’t want him to sack the UB CEO after Charu Sharma.

Fish fingers and Raja’s special was what APE wanted along with the drinks.

“What about the BJP? How will they fare this time?” I asked.

APE lifted his glass, considered my question from all angles, chewed the fish stick with satisfaction and after a carefully measured small sip said: “Now that you ask me, yes, I would say. Advaniji‘s biography, no matter what Murli Manohar Joshi thinks of it, that and the new found camaraderie between Ananth Kumar and Yediyurappa, makes them hot favourites. If you add the great injustice done to them by JDS, and a “mini-Modi wave” among the upper castes, I should think BJP will form a government all by themselves,” he banged the table emphatically.

This brought the attention of the waiter for the next order.

APE went to the toilet and I noticed he didn’t exactly walk in a straight line when he came back to his chair.

“I will have chilled white wine and Dutch cheese, if you have it. I don’t want any more hard liquor.”

His words were also like his walk and the little liquor league which APE had embarked on, looked like a cross between Mallya’s Royal Challengers and Deccan Chronicle‘s Deccan Chargers. Only God knows what they were up to, how they would get along, and where they were going.

“Do you feel JDS has any chance at all,” I asked APE who was holding the wine glass in one hand and the chair next to him for support.

“Nobody in their shenses would ever ignore JD(eSh),” he slushed. “The phather-son combo is the bhest phor all thims. Their pujas and homas and 30 per shent reservation in IT, BT and bitty sectors might yet make them a dark horse. They may still make the government both here and at the Centre!”

By now it was clear the APE had lost all the marbles in his head. I grabbed a jug of water from the passing waiter poured it into his glass and asked him to drink that.

After he drank two glasses of water, he put the glass down. His eyes shone as he made a gesture with his hand.

“It’s all clear now. Nobody will get a majority. I think all the three parties will come together and form a regional government. It will be called the Government of United Farmers and IT. In other words, an UNFIT Government.”

With that APE collapsed on his chair. I carried him with the help of a bearer, put him in the back seat, and started the car.

Faster than the fastest electronic voting machine

14 May 2008

The curbs of the Election Commission have killed the “election industry” of sign board painters, banner makers, illicit liquor brewers, etc. But it continues to be boom time for psephologists, astrologers, pollsters, experts and assorted analysts to peddle their wares.

When the first phase of polling ended at 5 pm on May 10, reporters and editors received a mass-mail from the delightfully appropriate “Creative Centre for Politics Studies” with its summer capital in Srinagar (Bangalore). An attched PDF file contained the findings of its “exit poll”.

“We, the COPS invigilators conducted exit poll survey in all 89 assembly constituencies of first phase of elections in Karnataka,” wrote co-ordinator M.C. Hemant Gowda (mobile phone number: 98805-94318). The exit poll gave 32 to the BJP, 30 to the Congress, 25 to the JDS.

Not very different from other opinion polls, you might say. Probably.

Polling ended at 5 pm.

The exit poll findings were mailed at 5.13 pm.

Not the kamal, the key thing to notice is the kufi

14 May 2008

M.K. VIDYARANYA writes from Chikkodi (Belgaum district): Whether it likes to admit it or not, for all its posturing otherwise, the BJP has a fundamental disconnect with Muslims. Not only does it have a problem in attracting Muslim leaders, it has a problem in wooing Muslim voters.

Not here.

Here, the minorities seem to have no trouble in carrying the party flag. But it is not because they have developed a sudden infatuation for the saffron party, but because of the candidate, Ramesh Jigajinagi—a fivetime MLA and three time MP, who joined the BJP at the time of the 2004 general elections.

Says Jigajinagi, “I learnt the art of taking every one along from my mentor and political guru, Ramakrishna Hegde. When I became an MLA in 1983, Hegde taught me to take every one along and deal with problems and issues dispassionately without considering their caste or creed. It’s a dictum I follow to this day.”

The proof of the pudding is this pada yatra taken out yesterday, with Jigajinagi at the helm.

Photograph: M.K. VIDYARANYA

BJP edge in second phase can’t blunt a split run

13 May 2008

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: A pre-poll survey of the 66 constituencies going to the hustings in the second phase on Friday, shows a slight edge for the BJP over the Congress. But all the straws in the wind continue to be pointing towards a hung assembly in the State when votes are counted on May 25.

The survey, with a sample size of 2,500, and to be published tomorrow, says the BJP could end up with between 36-39 of the 66 seats, and the Congress getting between 20-25 seats. The JDS is predicted to get around 5-8 seats.

# If read with the exit poll conducted by NDTV-IMRB, which gave an edge for the BJP in the first phase of elections on May 10, the BJP has a tally of 67-70 seats at the end of end of the second phase of polling, the Congress 43-48, and JDS 35-38.

# If read with the exit poll conducted by Suvarna News by C-Fore, it adds up to 59-67 seats for the Congress at the end of the first two phases of the assembly elections, 60-66 for the BJP, and 25-31 for the JDS.

The findings of the pre-poll survey show a marked fall in the Congress performance from the predictions of the CNN-IBN-Deccan Herald poll, which showed the party surging ahead of the BJP in both central and coastal Karnataka.

With 69 seats up for grabs in the third and final phase, pollsters believe it could be neck and neck for the BJP and Congress, with smaller parties getting to play an important role in the formation of the next government.

If the best-case scenario for the BJP is taken into consideration, it means the party will have to bag 44 of the 69 seats going to the polls in the third phase. The Congress’ best-case scenario means the party will have to bag 47 of the 69. How likely?

4 reasons the educated middle-class switched off

13 May 2008

Political analyst Sandeep Shastri in the Indian Express on why Bangalore recorded the lowest voter turnout among all the districts that went to the polls in the first phase of the Karnataka assembly elections:

# The educated middle class are convinced that they can get their problems resolved without assistance of their elected representatives. They have the resources — financial and in terms of networks — to get their problems resolved. They barely need to know, much less meet, their elected representative.

# Globalisation and privatisation have resulted in important decisions that involve the lives of the common people being influenced not by the state but by private players and the market. This has contributed to the diminishing importance of ‘government’ in the lives of urban Bangaloreans. So why vote?

# The cynicism among urban voters about the electoral/political process often appears to be a mask to legitimise their disinterest about and apathy towards politics. While it is fashionable to express one’s unequivocal faith in democracy, politics is too messy for the middle classes to dirty their hands with.

# Political parties, across the spectrum, have also failed to offer the ticket to individuals who can inspire middle class voters to turn up at the polling booth in larger numbers.

Read the full article: Bangalore isn’t willing

Lessons for bean City from Jack & the beanstalk

12 May 2008

Bibek Debroy in The Indian Express:

“By any criterion (per capita state domestic product, growth, poverty ratio, unemployment rate, human development, FDI share, percentage area irrigated), Karnataka is among the better-performing States. There will soon be a new government in Karnataka. Shouldn’t good economic performance make a new government’s task of governance easier?

“What can be done, and needs to be done, has been documented ad nauseam. All that is required is putting governance back on the agenda….

“The origins of the name Bangalore are obscure. It may have had something to do with rocks or guards, but the more common belief is one of boiled beans. The most remembered bean story is about Jack and the beanstalk, where Jack planted some magical beans and eventually killed the giant, with some help from the giant’s wife.

“There are no magical beans. But there are real beans in Bangalore that can grow into a giant bean-stalk. And we usually don’t remember the first part of the story, where Jack’s mother sent him off to the market to sell a cow. In return for the cow, Jack obtained the five magical beans. There may even be an allegory there about transforming Karnataka from an agricultural to tertiary/secondary economy. Remember, even reforming agriculture in Karnataka is easier than in many other states.”

Read the full story: Bangalore’s got the beans

Why middleclass needn’t take elections seriously

11 May 2008

ALOK PRASANNA writes from Bangalore: OK, so I succumbed to the pressure and voted.

All those radio ads, the newspapers specials, the gigantic banners on streets, and peer pressure from smug fellow law schoolers finally made me register as a voter, collect a voter ID card, and go out there and hit the button on Election Day.

I walked back feeling good about having performed my civic duty, happy that I wouldn’t be branded as a cynical, know-it-all who doesn’t vote, but acknowledged as a cynical, know-it-all who does.

In fact I was even disappointed when the voter turnout for Bangalore city was about 50% or so.

I wanted to write an anguished piece for churumuri on “Why don’t the middle classes participate in the elections?” Halfway through, I realized that it was the classic case of kaiyyali benne hidkondu urrolella thuppa hudukudu.

Why should we (as in the middle class in India) “participate” in government by voting in elections, when we are the damn Government?

If the Government is the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the police, the election commission, the PM, President, the military, then we, the middle class, pwn the Government (and that’s not a typo).

I’m not talking about the clerks and the constables, but the IAS and IPS officers who are in charge. It is only the middle class that could (and probably still can) afford the education necessary to attain such posts, and once in it, has the necessary connections to stay there.

I don’t see too many daughters and sons of Puttamma and her like in the Government.

And Mukesh Ambani wouldn’t bother himself with the nitty gritty of running a Government when he has Reliance to worry about.

Sure the odd, hardworking, Hindi-movie-like-against-all-odds-poor guy joins Government (note how this never happens anymore in the movie industry itself) but these are only the exceptions that highlight who rules all organs of Government.

Yup, the middle class has Government neatly tied up in a bundle.

Except the Legislature.

Aah, Parliament. The one thing the poor suckers in rural India imagine they have some control over. So diverse, so vocal, so participatory, so powerful, so … so… useless.

I mean for all its “supremacy of the Parliament”, and “primary lawmaking body” it is still the most vestigial of governmental organs. More law is made by the Executive on any given day, and if the judiciary doesn’t like the law, it don’t matter shit (as poor Anbumani Ramadoss found out the other day).

So, realizing the utter and total futility of making laws, our Parliamentarians (and their diligent counterparts in the State Legislative Assemblies) have decided that they might as well spend the time doing a bit of campaigning and causing chaos.

So, we have well-rushing, tearing up of papers to prevent Bills from being introduced, rugby style defence (provided by women!), and of course, the infamous Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Mike-Mela of 1997.
But you must admit: all of this is highly entertaining.

We should follow humour columnist Dave Barry‘s suggestion and see Parliament as the organ of Government devoted to entertainment (not that kind of ‘organ of entertainment’, you pervs!).

I mean, do you see any talent show throwing up a Lalu Prasad Yadav?

Does any WWE fight compare to the drama of watching zero hour on Lok Sabha TV?

Could even the world’s greatest satirist have come up with the kind of absurdity we saw in forty months of “coalition rule”?

Generations to come will scarce believe that one such as Deve Gowda actually walked in flesh and blood. They’ll dismiss him as a parody or a satirical composite of real people. After all, humans couldn’t possibly behave like that in public?!

So, in a public service message to the ones who usually batter our senses with public service messages: Stop asking us to take elections seriously!

The fate of the Government does not depend on the middle-class vote.

The future of Indian democracy does not depend on people like me taking 10 minutes from blogging, surfing the net, and Gtalk to go and vote for the most interesting symbol on a fancy machine.

Let the uneducated, and the misled vote for the criminal, the superstitious, the plain bigoted and the reactionary, and let them all behave as if they run this country. Taxes will seem like money well spent on four years (or less) worth of sheer entertainment.

We’ll do the governing anyway.

‘I have fought 13 elections and won 11 of them’

11 May 2008

E.P. Unny, India’s best political cartoonist, is on the Karnataka campaign trail for The Indian Express:

“There is another 123 ticking away down south. Karnataka is the only southern state where you have to count beyond two power blocs. And the post-poll deal could make the India’s nuclear agreement with the US look simple.

“In the event of a hung verdict, H.D. Deve Gowda’s little third party could play and outplay. Or so some assume.

“Banish all such assumptions—even that the Janata Dal (S) will only come in third. After the drubbing Mayawati gave pollsters and parachuting pundits, the maya in Indian elections is up there. So leave it to the veteran to figure things out.

“‘I’ve fought 13 elections and won 11. I know the mood of the people. We have a clear edge in these 89 constituencies,’ says Deve Gowda.”

Read the full account: Gowdas of the stump

NDTV EXIT POLL: Hung assembly in the air again

10 May 2008

An exit poll conducted by NDTV of the first phase of the assembly elections in Karnataka indicates a substantial improvement in the BJP’s performance in the south of the State, a setback for the Congess in Bangalore, and the JDS holding is own.

Of the 89 constituencies, the BJP is expected to get 31 seats (up 11 from last time), the Congress is expected to get 23 seats (minus 5 ) and the JDS 30 seats (minus six). The overall pattern indicates a “hung” assembly, according to Prannoy Roy, a trained psephologist.

# Of the 28 seats in the capital, the NDTV exit poll says 14 will go to the BJP, 10 to the Congress, and four to the JDS. An earlier exit poll conducted by C-Fore said the Congress and BJP could bag 13-14 seats each in Bangalore, with JDS getting 0-1.

# In the 61 constituencies outside Bangalore, the NDTV exit poll says the JDS will end up with 26 seats, BJP 17, and Congress 13 seats.

The exit poll findings indicates that the Congress gamble of using S.M. Krishna as the face of Bangalore has not paid off, according to Prannoy Roy. The sample size for the NDTV exit poll was 7,000. The fieldwork was done by IMRB.

# The NDTV-IMRB exit poll findings are markedly different from the DRS-INX News pre-poll survey which said the BJP would get 40, Congress, 29, JDS 12 and others 8.

# The Suvarna News-Cfore exit poll predicts 39-42 seats for the Congress, 24-27 for the BJP, 20-23 for the JDS 20-23, 1 for BSP, and 3 for others.

# A straw poll conducted by churumuri contributors said 41 for the Congress, 21 for BJP and 21 for JDS in the first phase.


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