As the voter turnout has been abysmally low during civic polls in Mumbai, the State Election Commission has planned to reach out to voters at 40,000 housing societies and 100 colleges to increase the participation of the citizens in the process to elect the representatives who will govern the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
The poll panel has directed the BMC and co-operative housing departments to reach out to the societies and carry out awareness drive on importance of voting. While BMC will be putting up advertisements, the co-operative housing department has to intimate the societies to pass a resolution on compulsory voting by holding a general body meeting of the society members. Further, the college students of over 100 colleges will conduct street plays, flash mobs and human chains in high footfall areas such as Marine Drive and Juhu Beach among many others.
The voters’ turnout during civic elections has not been more than 44% over many years. Even an administrative ward – A ward – that is known for active citizens’ participation and has areas like Colaba, Churchgate and CST had lowest voting turnout during 2012 civic polls.
Of the 24 administrative wards, A ward has seen the lowest voting percentage with 34.10% voters turning up for polling during 2012 civic elections. While there were 1.54 lakh voters, only 52,628 turned up at voting booths. Not just this ward, its neighbouring two wards – B and C — also saw voting turn out to be as less as 37.38% and 37.14%, respectively. S ward that comprises of areas such as Bhandup, Powai and Kanjurmarg recorded highest voting with 49.29%.
The voter turnout will be an important factor to decide on who will rule the country’s richest civic body. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the election commission are leaving no stone unturned to spread awareness. Apart from roping in over 100 colleges, state election commission will be reaching out to over 40,000 housing societies in the city.
Further, to ensure that voters turn up on the polling day, the BMC will be advertising the importance of voting at railway and BEST bus stations. The election commission has also been approached by hotels’ association that they will be helping to get in more voters by offering discounts on the polling day for voters who show them inked fingers. Commuters that vote on February 21 are also likely to get discounts on travel, as a leading cab service provider has also approached the election commission, revealed civic sources.
B G Pawar, deputy municipal commissioner, in charge of election from BMC, said, “We are trying for the voter turn out to increase. We had students showing placards during Mumbai Marathon and even now ads will be placed across 100 hoardings that will have messages on importance of voting.”