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As number of candidates rises, victory margins could fall

Here’s one more reason why you must cast your vote in the upcoming civic polls.

mumbai Updated: Feb 06, 2012 00:39 IST
Kunal Purohit

Here’s one more reason why you must cast your vote in the upcoming civic polls.

In a sizeable 44 of the total 227 wards in the city, there are 15 or more candidates vying for your vote. A majority of these wards are in the eastern suburbs, followed by the western suburbs.

More candidates translates into a division of votes – which can usher in a corporator who doesn’t represent a majority of his constituency. In other words, a very small population of the ward may actually have voted for the candidate who wins the highest number of votes. And with an average voter strength of just 50,000 per ward, each vote will count even more in these wards.

In the 2007 polls, candidates in 39 of 227 wards won with a margin of less than 600 votes. Of these, four seats were won with a margin of less than 100 votes.

The polls also saw many cases of candidates getting elected even though they had won only a fraction of the total votes — for instance, a candidate in Mulund bagged just 5% of the total votes — but won as he was in the majority nonetheless.

The 2012 candidates will see a total 2,233 candidates in the fray. While this works out to be an average of 10 candidates per seat, there is much disparity in the number of candidates across wards.

The highest number of candidates are in ward 138, covering the Deonar abattoir area, with as many as 33 candidates. Similarly, ward 123 in Chembur has 32 candidates. In both wards, the voter turnout in the 2007 polls was low.

On the other hand, in 17 wards, there are just three candidates. Another 24 wards will see only 4 candidates battling it out. Most of these will see a straight fight between the saffron combine and the Congress-NCP, while the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) could also prove to be a strong contender.

According to activists, better voter turnout can help improve victory margins in wards with a large number of candidates. “With such a close contest, each vote will count. Victory margins can reduce greatly, and politicians could have the last laugh,” said GR Vora, member, F-north ward federation Vora also felt that with stakes this high, ‘illegal gratification’ would be on the rise. “Politicians will throw in as much of money and promises. Voters will have to give a fitting reply by coming out to vote.”