This was the election when the Mumbaikar was to come out and vote for a change. The 26/11 strike had shaken up politically apathetic South Mumbai. After all the entire terror episode unfolded in the constituency. But on polling day, less than half of the registered votes turned up.
While half of Mumbai South decided it was not important to vote, there were many who decided to make a statement using their right to vote. At least 1,500 people from the Tulsiwadi locality in Tardeo exercised the 49-O option and chose not to vote for any of the candidates from the constituency.
The voters, mostly civic employees and slum dwellers, were protesting against the state government and political parties for trying to grab the land their homes stand on and forcing them to vacate their homes after making promises of redevelopment and ownership rights.
“Parties come out during campaigning and promise to look into our matter but do nothing,” said Amit Maru, Vice president of Megh Welfare Association from Tulsiwadi. If the ruling party is so irresponsible, how can we expect anything from others?”
Residents hope that their protest vote will teach politicians a lesson.
Some chose to go ahead with 49-O despite threats. “They (political parties) have threatened to put my sons in jail if I don’t vote,” said Kantibai Mukul Dev.
Most parts of the constituency, meanwhile, saw a slow turnout of voters throughout the day. While the enthusiasm in the newly included areas of Worli, Sewri, Parel and parts of Byculla was evident, the elite areas of Malabar Hill, Cuffe Parade and Colaba witnessed a slow trickle of voters, most of them cynical.
Many voters said they were voting for the sake of it. “We know that no candidate works. They are all corrupt and here to make money,” said banker Arvind Jogadia (42). “I just voted but I don’t have any hope.”
Issues like terrorism, the economic slowdown and political stability figured high on the voters’ list of priorities. But some had absolutely no expectations from the government they were helping elect.
“I can’t even share the words I have in mind to describe the government,” said Sukumar Bhingarde, a 27-year-old telecom executive from Worli. “I have no expectations from the new one either. I just voted because it is my right.