Votes for the Congress not on the menu

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The Siddaramaiah government’s flagship welfare scheme is unlikely to swing votes for the party, finds survey

“The food is good and cheap. Indira Canteens have been useful, but it won’t impact who I vote for. There are many other factors that I would consider before choosing my candidate,” said Kartik, a patron at the Indira Canteen in Adugodi.

The Siddaramaiah-government’s flagship welfare scheme may have won its share of patrons, but it is unlikely to swing votes in the Congress’ favour.

“I eat breakfast at the Indira Canteen every day. I am a student and I stay alone. I cannot cook in the morning and eating in a hotel everyday is very expensive. The canteen has definitely been useful. But, it will not affect my voting. The government is doing it for the welfare of the people, which is its job. This must be the goal of any party,” said Dhananjay Kumar Singh, who goes to the canteen in Kumaraswamy Layout. A survey by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Daksh also found that the scheme may not really help the Congress win votes.

They interviewed 13,244 people across 225 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka between December 2017 and February 2018. The survey was conducted to identify what issues may influence voting. According to the survey, the Indira Canteen, which Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched amid much fanfare on August 16 last year, seems to have made little inroads.

Only 31% respondents were happy with the scheme. This was seen especially in certain pockets of the city, such as Gandhi Nagar, Chamrajpet and Chickpet, where the survey found the canteens to be fully utilised.

However, 36% expressed unhappiness with the Indira Canteen, while another 33% of respondents said they do not go to Indira Canteens.

“Some of the canteens are not strategically located. The one off 80-Feet Road in Thippasandra is in a fully residential lane and getting there from the main road is not easy. Hardly few people use it. The government should have though about accessibility of canteen while planning,” said Manjunath K., an autorickshaw driver. Keen observers say that Indira Canteen makes little or no difference to people and other development and livelihood issues would take centre stage. Clifton D’Rozario, who has been working with the urban poor in the city, said: “I hope people don’t fall for the Bhagya schemes and vote. Had the government given the working class the minimum wages under the law, the Indira Canteen would have become redundant. Indira Canteens are inconsequential. People should ask the larger questions to the parties.”

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