With the redrawing of constituencies giving Mumbai and Thane 60 seats — 13 more than they had previously — the urban voter has more say in governance than ever before.
Across the state, 7.5 crore voters are registered to vote for 288 Assembly constituencies, 130 of which — 45 per cent — are urban.
The sentiment that politicians have been taking voters for granted is strong. But, point out social activists, that’s only because voter turnouts are low. In the Lok Sabha polls in April, Mumbai’s voting percentage was 43 per cent, compared to a national average of 60 per cent.
The disillusionment was apparent in a HT-C fore survey published on September 15 — 66 per cent of the Mumbaiites polled said no party could fulfill their aspirations.
But, say activists, vote you must. “Only when citizens participate in the voting process can elected representatives be made accountable,” said B G Deshmukh, former Union cabinet secretary and president of the Praja Foundation, an initiative to involve citizens in the election process.
Infrastructure is a major issue. The state has taken up projects worth Rs 43,000 crore in and around Mumbai, but they are dogged by slow implementation and lack of political will.
That can change only when politicians know that voters are not indifferent. Anandini Thakoor, chairperson of the H-West Citizen’s Trust, said: “I come across people with many complaints, but ask them if they have voted and the answer is no.”
Citizens’ participation, she said, can work miracles. The Khar station area revamp, which residents carried out with the help of their elected representative, shows that.
Deshmukh said the middle- and higher-middle classes are educated and understand issues. “That puts a special responsibility on them to vote and get a good government in place,” he said.