It is barely 8am on Thursday, but Ghatkopar's PG Garodia High School is already crowded, with serpentine queues stretching along the length of the school's ground.
BJP supporters during a road show by BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi before filing his nomination papers in Varanasi. (PTI photo)
In Mumbai's Gujarati heartland of Ghatkopar East, the Narendra Modi factor is at work. A possible Gujarati prime minister and traditional loyalties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mean that while the city ticks a poor turnout across suburbs, Ghatkopar sees voters coming out in full strength. Most Gujarati-dominated areas in the city witnessed higher voter turnouts.
Prominent among these were areas such as Mulund (West), Borivli, Kandivli and Charkop in the western suburbs, along with parts of the island city.
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In the Garodia Nagar polling station, voting till 6pm had reached an average 60%, a steep climb from 44% in 2009. Prakash Shah, a BJP leader from the area, said, "While Ghatkopar has been a stronghold, we have never seen such numbers. The support that the party has received because of Modi's popularity is huge."
Many, like 38-year-old Dolly Shah, a resident of Mulund, made their preference clear. "We finally got the chance to vote for Modi. There is a need to change the system and only the BJP can do so." But this 'wave' also meant that many had to back the Shiv Sena, albeit warily. "Many Gujaratis wouldn't vote for the Sena if it weren't for the alliance with the BJP," said Chandrakant Doshi, president of the Andheri-based Gujarati Vikas Manch.
Opponents recognise this reluctance. A Congress leader from Sion, where it faces a Sena candidate, says that they have been trying to convince the community to vote for the Congress. "We are telling them that while Modi may be the PM, their life won't change unless their MP is accessible. Since they can't imagine approaching a Sena MP, we are telling them to vote Congress."
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