April 5, 2021 4:48:58 pm
With strict Covid-19 rules in place in Karnataka, most Kerala and Tamil Nadu voters living in Bengaluru are not keen on travelling to their constituencies to vote in the state Assembly elections.
After a surge in Covid-19 cases since the beginning of March in Karnataka, the state government has made it mandatory to produce negative RT-PCR reports for those entering the state from neighbouring Kerala.
According to Karnataka Kerala Travellers Forum (KKTF), there are 12 lakh Keralites living in Bengaluru, a siezable chunk of them working for IT companies and running various businesses. KKTF convener R Muraleedhar told indianexpress.com: “For Malayalis, participation and voting in the election is a festival. But most Keralites living in the city have decided not to go to Kerala since there are stringent Covid norms by the government and also the cases in Kerala is increasing.”
Muraleedhar said that around 100 buses were arranged by various political parties for voters during the last Lok Sabha election, but this time the number has significantly decreased.
Lesly Joseph, a Management student from Thrissur, said that she will not be going to her hometown for voting this year. “I am afraid that if I travel I may put my family members at the risk of catching covid-19. The election in Kerala may also increase the number of covid cases there,” Lesly said.
However, Subin PA, a Kozhikode resident working in a city bank, says those working from home will reduce the deficit. “The Keralites living in Bengaluru may not go to elections in Kerala due to fear of Covid 19 and strict rules in borders, but there are many Keralites who are already in their native working from home since the offices are closed in Bengaluru. They will be able to vote in the elections. Since many Keralites work in the Corporate or IT profession in Bengaluru they have already shifted to Kerala,” he says
Many NRIs, particularly those from the Gulf, are also expected to exercise their franchise.
Elections to the 140-seat Kerala Legislative Assembly is scheduled to be held tomorrow.
Similarly, people from Tamil Nadu may also avoid going to their home disricts for voting on Tuesday. According to the 2011 census, there are 13 per cent Tamil speakers in Bengaluru, but most of them are registered voters of the city.
According to G Dhamodaran, President of Bangalore Tamil Sangam, most of the Tamil-speaking people in Bengaluru have been living here for years and are permanent residents. Very few people have votes in Tamil Nadu. he adds.
Srinivasan, a businessman who is a native of Arcot in Ranipet district, said, “ I have been voting for the last 20 years in my native but there is no point in going for voting now since there is the risk of Covid 19. My family had recently travelled to Tamil Nadu and got tested positive so we are still in fear of the virus and don’t want to take any chances with our health.”
Results for the two states will be announced on May 2.