On Thursday, Mumbai shrugged off some of its apathy and came out to vote, with 52.66 % (initial estimates by the Election Commission) of the total registered voters making it to the polling booths.
While the city did not break any national records, this turnout is the highest re, since the 57.37% in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. The polling percentage was 11.24% higher than in the 2009 elections, which took place six months after the 26/11 terror attacks.
Between 1989 and now, only once has Mumbai posted 50% voting — during the 1998 polls (50.26%), when the collapse of the United Front government led to mid-term polls and the city rallied to vote for a stable government.
So what prompted Mumbaiites to vote? Did the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi and his highdecibel campaign push people towards polling stations with people voting for and against him, as seems the common perception?
“It was a combination of factors — a personality-dominated election, increased awareness because of efforts by the Election Commission, massive mobilisation by the candidates. The fact is there was a democratic upsurge with people not wanting to be left out of the voting process,” said B Venkatesh Kumar, political analyst.
“Whether it was a vote for Modi or against him will be analysed post elections. But it seems that people came out to also vote for stability.”
The earlier spikes in voting in Mumbai were seen during defining moments — in 1977 postEmergency (61.77%), in 1984, after Indira Gandhi’s assassination (56.36%) and in 1989, following the Bofors scandal and the antiCongress wave (57.37 %).
Unusually, there was a palpable buzz on the streets and at polling stations across Mumbai, with citizens who voted flaunting their inked fingers and those who were left out showing agitation. The increased polling percentage could indicate a tough contest in the city, with opposing alliances securing their traditional votebanks.