Low turnout: Did Congress take Dakshina Kannada minorities for granted?

Mangaluru: Dakshina Kannada district might have recorded an increase in the voting percentage compared to earlier years but both the Congress and BJP feel there was relatively less turnout in the minority dominated polling booths.

These leaders say that the turnout in the minority dominated booths particularly in Mangaluru City South, Mangaluru City North, Mangaluru and Bantwal, was relatively less this time and  below 70 per cent in some places. Also the student turnout in Mangaluru City South, which was pretty big last time, has dropped.
“We are unable to comprehend the reason for this. 

But the turnout in the minority dominated areas is less in the region in this election. In places like Bunder, Kudroli, Bengre and other booths where minorities are more in numbers, the turnout was between 55-70 per cent which is not great. If efforts were put in, it could have been more. It’s certainly a matter of concern, we may witness an impact on the results too,” a senior Congress leader said.

“Minorities are the traditional voters of the Congress. If their turnout is good, then the Congress can be confident of a win. But this time, their turnout is not satisfactory and we feel it will be less in many places,” he said.

“One of the reasons could be that K Ashraf, who contested as JD(S) candidate in Mangaluru against Minister U.T. Khader, hails from Bunder and enjoys  good influence among Muslim organisations. He could be one of the reasons for the less turnout in that region,” a former KPCC office-bearer  claimed.

Party workers are angry with the local leaders and sitting MLAs for failing to maintain close contacts and build bonds with voters- particularly from the minority vote banks. “The local leaders assumed that minorities would always be with them. They did not take much care to contact them. In many places, they have also annoyed the minorities on some issues pertaining to the region. Steps should have been taken to contact them and ensure that they came to vote. Local leaders seem to have failed in this,” he added.

Hostel inmates, who voted in large numbers in the last election, did not show the same enthusiasm this time. “Many have gone home due to the holidays. Others were scared to come as the BJP had made it a big issue claiming that there were many duplicate voters,” he said.

The BJP leaders too agree that the number of minority votes polled was relatively less. They feel that  local leaders had antagonised the minorities on various issues and so they might have decided not to  vote.

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