Karnataka’s capital and India’s “Silicon Valley” is known for staying home on election day. As the state votes today for a new government, tempting offers are being made to encourage voters, especially young and first-time voters, to show up at polling centres and get their fingers inked. From dosa and coffee for gratis, discounts at restaurants to flowers and saplings to first-time voters, the lure of “free” is hard to resist.
Voters who made their debut today can head for this restaurant opposite the Vidhan Soudha for a free dosa and coffee. And those who aren’t first-timers will also get a complimentary cup of coffee, its owner said.
Krishnaraj SP, owner of Hotel Nisarga Grand Pure, eavesdropped on a bunch of youngsters a few days ago. They were discussing the state of politics in Karnataka and the country and how they didn’t feel enthusiastic about the elections.
“I heard a few youngsters who were talking how their vote won’t count and wouldn’t make any difference. When I tried to persuade them to exercise their right, they asked if I would give them free masala dosa and coffee for their vote. I agreed,” Mr Krishnaraj said.
Vasudev’s Adiga, a chain of quick-service restaurants, is also offering free coffee at its 20 outlets to those who vote today. Some other restaurants are offering discounts on food bills on voting day.
Besides restaurants, a cyber cafe in Rajajinagar is offering free internet access to everyone who votes. The cafe is also offering discount on photocopying. Several groups in Bengaluru are giving flowers and saplings to young voters for being part of the process.
They have, however, clarified that they aren’t supporting any particular party and just want to push youngsters to vote.
According to reports, the officials of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had planned to meet traders, hoteliers, mall and multiplex owners to discuss discounts ahead of the elections, but it was cancelled as the popular move, they thought, would be exploited by political parties to influence voters.
In the past, free dosas in the shape of Kannada letters and requests like ‘Nanna matha nanna hakku‘ (my vote, my right), ‘Ellaroo mathadana maadi‘ (please all of you vote), ‘Praja prabhutva bhadrapadisi‘ (strengthen the democracy) were distributed among voters with an aim to spread awareness about elections.