Urban Apathy May Worsen Voter Turnout in Tech-Hub Bengaluru: India Votes

(Bloomberg) -- Each day, Bloomberg journalists take you across a selection of towns and cities as they gear up for the big vote.

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This is Saritha Rai, and I’m Bloomberg’s Asia Artificial Intelligence Reporter, based in Bengaluru. In this high tech hub, there are barely any signs that the once-in-five-year election is just days away. It’s peak summer and India’s Silicon Valley has been reeling under a double shock: unusually torrid weather and an acute water shortage. The infrastructure-starved, traffic-clogged city is bursting at the seams as an influx of young Indians arrive to study or work. While voters are expected to express their displeasure by casting the ballot, Bengaluru’s citizens may not even show up at the polling booth to protest — the city registered an average 52% voter turnout at the last polls in 2019, compared with the national record of 67%. Youthful Bengaluru could be a microcosm of an apathetic, educated, urban India that political parties can’t seem to impress.

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Campaign Trail

The first — and largest — phase of voting saw voter turnout dip to about 65.5% from 70% in 2019, a phenomenon that the Indian Express reported has the Election Commission concerned because the kick off typically records the highest enthusiasm and sets the tone for the rest of the elections. The Congress party accused Modi of “lies” and “hate speech” after the premier said — without proof — that the opposition manifesto indicated it will redistribute the country’s wealth to “infiltrators” and “those who have more children,” which is widely being interpreted as a veiled jab at Muslims. The Congress said its manifesto doesn’t talk about “redistribution” and that it favors a “comprehensive socio-economic caste census.” The Election Commission declined to comment on the remarks made by Modi.

Read Bloomberg Economics analysis of the main manifestos.

Global Media

  • Modi’s party secured less than 40% of the vote in 2019 but a fractured and dysfunctional opposition struggled to capitalize on it, the New York Times writes.

  • Whoever wins has a big challenge ahead: India urgently needs jobs for its millions of young people, but its education system often produces the wrong kind of graduates, the Wall Street Journal says.

Who Votes This Week?

India’s mammoth election runs through June 1, with counting scheduled for June 4. This map from the Election Commission of India shows which constituencies vote when.

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Indians have started voting in the world’s biggest election. Understand how money and business intersect with politics and power by following Bloomberg India’s channel on WhatsApp, and sign up for the weekly India Edition newsletter by Menaka Doshi.

This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation.

--With assistance from Supriya Batra and Debjit Chakraborty.

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