By P.T. Bopanna
To prevent harassment to tourists, the Election Commission of India should immediately intervene and scrap an arbitrary order reportedly issued by K.A. Dayananda (in picture), the deputy commissioner of Shivamogga in Karnataka, directing hotels and homestays against entertaining bookings from tourists belonging to constituencies going to the polls on April 18 and 23.
Either Dayananda is overzealous or he is ignorant of the law in ordering all tour operators and resort/hotel owners to verify the address proof and voter ID cards of the guests before giving accommodation. He has been quoted as saying: “All voters must exercise their franchise to strengthen democracy.”
This IAS official should know that there is no law to force voters to exercise their franchise. Instead of coming out with such hare-brained ideas, Dayananda should take up voter awareness programme.
It is true that in view of the long week-end around the polling dates on April 18, residents of cities like Bengaluru are expected to flock to cooler getaways to escape the heat.
Viju Changappa, the president of Kodagu Homestays Association, has said: “Our members are aware of the election dates across the country, who will ask tourists about their participation in elections if they book on their respective voting days.”
One is not sure whether all the talk of denying accommodation to people who do not vote is all media hype. Ideally, hotel owners can offer discounts to guests who show proof of voting with ink on their finger.