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Free dosas, rides & discounts rain on voters as companies & retailers step in to drive turnout

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Hotels, cafes, fine dining restaurants, bars, bakeries, and electronics stores in the city offered discounts on Friday to encourage voter turnout in the tech capital of the country. At NoBroker, employees got a holiday, like in other organisations but the company urged them not to take a long weekend before going out and voting first.
Manipal Hospital helped 41 of its inpatients to get to the polling station and vote.

Bengaluru schools too pitched in to do their bit. Global City International School, for instance, sent a message to parents, urging them to cast their vote.

While the rest of Karnataka recorded a higher turnout of 65 per cent in 2014 general elections, Bengaluru’s turnout was 55.97% in north, central and south Lok Sabha seats.

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While Coffee Confessions in Electronic City, a European style restaurant offered 10% discount on cold coffee, shakes, and Italian pizza, Deck of Brews in Kadubeesanahalli promised a free beer this Saturday (since they cannot sell liquor on polling day) for the first 50 customers with an inked finger. Malgudi Mylari Mane in Nelamangala and Koramangala offered 10% off on the whole menu, and offered a free Mylari dosa and filter coffee to those who cast their vote. Croma stores also offered 10% off till April 28 for those who showed their inked finger. Amusement Park Wonderla gave tickets to voters at discounted prices, ridesharing app Blu-Smart offered a 50% discount to passengers traveling within 30 km of polling stations, while taxi aggregator Rapido gave free rides to people with disabilities and elderly voters.Mr. Philly’s restaurant offered a 30% discount on burgers and milkshakes to the first 100 voters at the diner.GK Pramod, founder, Coffee Confessions and Iyengar’s Oven Fresh, told ET, more than a 100 people turned up at his Niladri road café and bakery showing their inked fingers to avail the 10% discounts. “Even if one of the family members voted, we gave discounts to their entire family,” he said.

Krishnaraj SP, proprietor of Nisarga Grand restaurant on Nruputhunga Road had already seen 5,300 customers by afternoon who had cast their vote line up at his hotel for free butter dosa, watermelon juice and ghee laddoo.

He has been offering free food to his customers since 2018 on polling days. “In 2018, around 4,300 people turned up, in 2019, around 4,300 people turned up, and in 2023, around 5100 customers turned up,” he said, recalling the number of voters who showed up with inked fingers.

“We’re just doing this to increase voter awareness among youngsters who seem to have bad opinions about politicians. We need to encourage first time voters about their right to vote,” he said, adding that people had been lining up at his restaurant since 7.30 am after a visit to their nearest polling station.

Asked about whether he’s worried about the loss the restaurant will incur on polling day, he said, “We didn’t give it a thought. It’s all about spreading the word and getting others to vote.”

PC Rao, president of Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association (BBHA) has 1,500 members, including 365 cafes and bakeries, 114 fine-dining restaurants and 1,021 darshinis, in Bengaluru.

“These are innovative ideas to boost voter turnout. We saw people turning up from places like Kengeri, BTM Layout, and Jayanagar at Nisarga. More than 100 people were waiting in queue there. It was heartening to see a couple around 95 years old also turn up to vote and stop at Nisarga for refreshments,” he said.

Kamat Hosaruchi at Orion Mall and Lulu Mall in Rajajinagar offered 10% discount on food and beverages, Element3 in Indiranagar and Whitefield also offered 10% discount on food, and Cafee Udupi Ruchi offered a free mocktail.

“I heard free coffee was offered at a café in Yelahanka. Eateries in RR Nagar, Lulu Mall, and Orion Mall also offered discounts. Socials bar and restaurant will offer discounts tomorrow and the day after,” Rao said.

Ride hailing platform Rapido offered free auto/cab riders for senior citizens and physically challenged voters and free bike rides for other voters in Bengaluru.

Large information technology (IT) companies in India including TCS, Infosys, Wipro, and Tech Mahindra gave all its employees a day off from work and a full day paid leave in order to encourage them to go out and vote on Friday.

The delivery centres in the city on the voting day were shut.

“We have been encouraging our employees to go out and exercise their right to vote as a responsible citizen. Given the distance and time taken to commute and the unusual summer heat at one of its highest temperatures, it was decided to facilitate the day off,” one of the officials told ET.

TCS said it “will adhere to the guidance shared by the Election Commission” and provide its associates the opportunity to exercise their franchise.

Besides a paid holiday, TCS employees are also being encouraged to vote through emails and reminders on their internal systems.

(With inputs from Sreeradha Basu)

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