Times News NetworkThere were just 155 voters. None of them was aged above 26 and many were yet to cast their first vote. But they sent out a clear message on Saturday that could be worthwhile for political parties. Students of Mount Carmel College (MCC) cast their votes in favour of a clear agenda, believable strategy and regional roots, and voted out blame-game politics in the mock elections conducted for the Shivajinagar constituency on Saturday.
Bringing out skeletons from one another’s closets and pointing fingers at each other saw the candidates of two national parties — Congress and BJP — lose the constituency. The NOTA (None of The Above) option got more votes than the BJP, which secured 18, while the Congress garnered 31of the 155 votes. The clear winner — something political analysts would disagree with — was JD(S) which garnered 86 votes. In actual elections, the party has not won in Shivajinagar since 1994. Shruthi M K, 24, played the role of the JD(S) candidate and called herself ‘akka’ (sister), borrowing from the state JD(S) president Kumaraswamy, who is fondly called Kumaranna (brother). She convinced her voters with a simple strategy: “I am family, here to address your woes”. .
Megha Sharma, 25, and Shilpi Sinha Ray, 23, representing the BJP and the Congress respectively, were busy pointing out how the other had failed in delivering on promises. Multiple voters STOI spoke to said Shruthi could really convince them with her sisterhood argument and the fact that she and her team could speak in Kannada was impressive. They also felt her team was more accessible. Shruthi even distributed rakhis to several voters with her contact details on it..
“The department of public policy at MCC said it helped students understand the nuances of campaigning and importance of active participation in polls. “If women and youngsters participate in politics, the country and world will have a different set of policies. If there were more women making these policies, no one would tell them to not be out late,” said Shanthala Damle, a jury member. Citizen activist Srinivas Alavilli, who was asked by the college to conduct lessons on the practical understanding of how polls work, said modern political campaigning is taking root in India now through digital media.
Nimeshika Jayachandran is a student of NSoJ and is an intern with Times of India, Bangalore