Old city versus new city divide was perceptible during a sluggish voting in the state capital during the civic polls on Saturday. While enthusiasm was visible in the form of high voter turnout in certain old city localities and in the areas with dominant poor settlements, booths in most other localities wore almost a deserted look.
By 3.30pm, the city recorded merely 40-45% voting, with the percentage considerably lower in posh localities. Polling booths near the Banganga settlement in North TT Nagar and Roshanpura, settlements on Kolar Road and Chunabhatti, in E-8 extension, near Nehru Nagar and such other localities witnessed considerable hustle and bustle throughout the day and voters turned up in high numbers.
"We hardly ever get any benefit out of it, but we think it important to vote before we ask for something," Bhuran Bai, 52, a resident of Banganga who voted at the Chandrashekar Government School in north TT Nagar said.
The voters' assistance centres set up by the political parties and independent candidates in such areas were main points of activity with party workers trying to attract voters at the last moment by helping them to locate their polling booths.
Ekta Singh, a student of first year B.Com turned up alone at the Kasturba Gandhi School in ward 25 (TT Nagar) to cast her vote. "My mother is out of town and my father is at work, so I decided to come alone. I am excited because this is my first election as a voter. I would choose candidate according to the party," she said.
In the old city, localities under ward 5 to 50 like Qaziq Camp, Royal Market, Kamla Park, DIG Bungalow, Itwara, Budhwara and others, witnessed quite high turnout in the first half of the day. Munne Khan of Shahid Nagar voted with his entire family at the Government Obdedia School at 7.30am. "This is first thing we thought we should do today," he said.
The fact that both main mayoral candidates — Alok Sharma of BJP and Kailash Mishra of Congress — are residents of old city perhaps added to enthusiasm. In contrast, the booths in posh and comparatively affluent localities of new Bhopal like Arera Colony, Char Imli, Shivaji Nagar, South TT Nagar, Jawahar Chowk, Shahpura and others remained devoid of any election related enthusiasm. At no point of time in the day were queues witnessed in these booths.
Those who did turn up swore by their democratic duties. Shobhana Pathak and Dhanlakshmi Pillai of South TT Nagar, both college teachers, voted at Model School. They said they always made it a point to vote. "But please write that we look for changes when we vote and from corporators and mayor we seek at least better cleanliness," Pathak added.
Physician Alok Verma voted with his family at the Kamla Nehru School (ward 32). He mentioned that it was duty of the citizens to vote if they wanted good and smooth governance. His son Divyansh, 18, said he sought information about the candidates before deciding on his votes.
Missing names from voters' list became point of contention in several polling booths across city. People came with their voter I-cards and complained that though they had voted in assembly and Lok Sabha elections their names were missing this time. Chand Miyan, 40 of Ashoka Garden said the names of his wife and sister-in-law were missing though his name appeared in voting list.