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Every vote counts. Yours too

mumbai Updated: Jan 10, 2012 01:10 IST
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit
Hindustan Times
Kunal Purohit

If you think your one vote does not matter to the outcome of the city's civic polls, these numbers will surprise you. In the 2007 civic elections, in 40 of the 227 electoral wards, seats were won by a margin of less than 600 votes. Of these, four seats were won by a margin of less than 100 votes.

The margins are likely to dip further in the February 16 elections as the movement to have citizens' group-backed candidates gathers steam, said experts.

With 11 seats, the Congress won the most number of seats with such low margins in 2007; the Shiv Sena came second with 8 seats won with margins lower than 600 votes.

Niyaz Vanu, an NCP corporator who won by 878 votes, said: "This occurred mainly because the Congress and the NCP didn't have a pre-poll alliance in 2007. As a result, many natural Cong-NCP supporters were confused and it led to a division of votes."

This time, voters will have the option to vote for an NGO-backed candidate, which could again lead to a division of votes.

"People have the choice of voting for NGO-backed candidates, in case mainstream parties don't put up good candidates. Political parties should realise this and put up clean, honest candidates so that they have an edge over citizen-backed candidates," said Sharad Kumar, trustee of AGNI, which campaigns to ensure greater voting during elections.

In such a scenario, both experts and political players said the significance of every vote is heightened. Kumar said:

"When such division of votes happen, the key to winning is by targeting and winning over small groups of voters. The candidate who is able to tap into such groups more successfully will have the greater chance of winning the seat."

Kumar is not sure the voting percentages will improve.

"After the 2008 terror attacks, we thought Mumbai would give a fitting reply in the elections scheduled just a month later. But hardly anyone came to vote and the percentage was less than the halfway mark. I wonder if it will be any different this time," he said.