A 62-hour bloody siege by terrorists. Over 10,000 people on the streets demanding answers. Months of awareness drives coaxing people to vote. None of this could convince over 50 lakh voters in the country’s financial capital to make their way to polling booths on Thursday.
On V-day, five months after the city faced India’s worst terrorist strike, Mumbaiites showed its disdain to the
spirit of democracy.
The turnout in the city’s six constituencies was a dismal 44.15 per cent, lower than the 47.15 per cent recorded in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
In south Mumbai, the heart of the terror battle that spurred citizen activism and shouting matches on television channels, the polling percentage was 43.22 per cent, marginally less than the 44 per cent turnout in 2004.
“I am stunned. I don’t know what went wrong,” said actor Rahul Bose, the celebrity face of citizen mobilisation drives.
The constituency has an interesting mix of candidates, including two sitting MPs and a high-profile independent candidate, but that did not inspire residents of tony Malabar Hill and Colaba to vote.
“I am disappointed with the low turnout. Even after terror came knocking on our doors, we are sleeping,” said Veena Singhal, chairman of Peddar Road Residents Association. “The four-day vacation has played a spoiler.” The Association, like others across the city, had organised candidate meets and drives for better turnouts.
“It was failure on the part of citizenry to not participate in the political process, especially in south Mumbai where there was enough motivation,” said political analyst B. Venkatesh Kumar. “It’s a rejection of democracy.”
It comes as no consolation, but tony south Mumbai’s neighbouring constituencies did even worse. The North Central constituency, which includes Bandra and Juhu - home to the rich and famous - polled 41.82 per cent. South Central, which includes Asia’s largest slum Dharavi and the Marathi manoos’ bastion Dadar, polled 41.85 per cent.
The highest voting was recorded in the North West constituency, spread between Andheri and Goregaon. It recorded 49.15 per cent turnout. The North East, which includes eastern suburbs like Bhandup and Mulund, polled 42.28 per cent.
The turnout out in four constituencies in the adjoining Thane district was low at 42.55 per cent.