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Tuesday, September 11, 2001

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BMP polls: NGOs launch campaign to improve awareness among voters

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, SEPT. 10. As elections to the Council of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) are due soon, Swabhimana and the Public Affairs Centre (PAC), City-based voluntary organisations, have launched a campaign to improve awareness among voters.

The campaign, launched in association with residents' welfare associations, will persuade voters to elect ``responsive'', ``capable'' and ``upright'' candidates. Another objective is to minimise the use of money and muscle power, and promote greater transparency in the electoral process.

As part of the campaign, Swabhimana and the PAC have initiated a dialogue with the major political parties to pressure them to select capable persons as candidates.

Over 150 residents' welfare associations are participating in the campaign and are writing letters of appeal to the Congress, the BJP, the Janata Dal (United), the Janata Dal (Secular) and the CPI (Marxist) to select ``the right persons'' as candidates.

Swabhimana and the PAC have formed a five-point eligibility criteria for political parties to select their candidates. The parties are being requested to select only such candidates who are registered voters and residents of the respective wards from which they will be contesting.

Candidates who are close relatives or friends of contractors directly executing projects for BMP, and candidates who have a criminal background, should not be allowed to contest, the organisations have told the parties.

Swabhimana and the PAC have said that only candidates who have passed matriculation and are committed to making Bangalore a ``cleaner, greener and safer place to live'' should be allowed to contest.

``If the political parties stick to these five eligibility criteria in the process of screening and selecting candidates, it will go a long way in encouraging a large number of voters who have been apathetic to the BMP electoral process,'' the PAC Executive Director, Dr. Suresh Balakrishnan, and Mr. G. Govardhan of Swabhimana, have said.

It may be recalled that at least 15 per cent of the 1,091 candidates who contested in the 1996 BMP elections were reported to have been involved in criminal cases.

Most of them had either been arrested on criminal charges or chargesheeted.

Statistics show that the Kengeri Gate sub-division was reported to have listed 15 candidates involved in criminal cases. While Ramchandrapuram ward had at least three notorious anti-social elements in the fray, Nandini Layout and Jayachamarajendra (J.C.) Nagar ward had two ``tainted'' candidates each.

Frazer Town had four persons who were being chargesheeted for various offences contesting as independent candidates. Hebbal, Devarajeevanahalli and Nehrupuram wards had at least one chargesheeted candidate.

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