Bengaluru: Free beer and taxi rides to woo voters in Indian city

Several restaurants have announced offers for voters who show them their ink-stained fingers.

Many companies in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru are offering a host of incentives – from free food to taxi rides – to people voting in India’s general election.

Located in Karnataka state, Bengaluru is often in the news for its low voter turnout during elections.

So hotels, taxi services and other firms have announced initiatives to encourage people to cast their ballot.

These include free beer, discounted cab rides and even free health check-ups.

At some food outlets, customers would need to show their finger stained with indelible ink as proof they’ve voted.

The city is voting on Friday in the second phase of the seven-day election.

On Wednesday, the state’s high court allowed an association of hotels to give food for free or at discounted prices as long as it did not violate election guidelines.

“Different hotels and restaurants will be providing different things to the voters based on their personal call,” PC Rao, president of the hotel association, told the Bangalore Mirror newspaper.

“While some of these places will provide free coffee, dosas [a pancake made from rice batter and lentils] and fruit juice to overcome the heat, some of the outlets will give discounts on food or have some offers,” he added.

In the last general election of 2019, the city’s Bangalore South constituency had recorded the lowest voting percentage in Karnataka state at 53.7%.

Turnout was also low in Bangalore Central (54.3%) and Bangalore North (54.7%) compared with the state’s total turnout at 68%.

Most companies began to encourage residents to vote last week last but announced offers after the court order on Wednesday.

Popular amusement park Wonderla is giving tickets to voters at discounted prices, while Deck of Brews, a pub in the city, is giving away free beer to its first 50 customers who have voted.

Ridesharing app Blu-Smart, meanwhile, is offering a 50% discount to passengers traveling within 30km (18 miles) of polling stations, while taxi aggregator Rapido is giving free rides to people with disabilities and elderly voters.

“This is our way of celebrating democracy and the importance of voting,” Gopi Chand Cherukuri, the co-founder of Mr. Philly’s, told The Indian Express newspaper. The restaurant is offering a 30% discount on burgers and milkshakes to the first 100 voters at the diner.

“We hope that this initiative sparks enthusiasm among citizens of Bengaluru to exercise their right to vote and make a difference.”

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