If you are fed up with the state of the city’s infrastructure, if you believe you have a right to pothole-free roads and better drinking water, cast your vote and make your opinion count on February 16, the day Mumbai and nine other municipal bodies across the state go to polls.
The State Election Commission (SEC) announced the date for the polls on Tuesday.
This time, the SEC has deliberately scheduled the polls on a weekday — February 16 is a Thursday. “People tend to go on holiday on the weekend and we hope that keeping it mid-week will increase the voter turnout,” said State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan.
The vote cast by each of Mumbai’s approximate 1.04 crore voters will seal the fate of the city for the next five years as the parties that win the majority of votes will determine how the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) functions, what it will do to make your life more comfortable and how its Rs 22,000 crore-budget — collected from you in the form of various taxes — is spent.
“The political churning and awareness being created across the country in the past year has penetrated people’s minds. Politicians cannot be blamed every time. You must do your duty first by exercising your vote,” said Aftab Siddiqui, a Bandra-based civic activist.
Mumbaiites have a poor track record when it comes to polls, with less than half the voting population casting its vote. In 2007, when the last civic polls were held in the city, only 46.05% of the voters exercised their right. In 2002, the figure stood at 42.05%.
If voters turn up in large numbers, said civic activists, it will be a strong signal to political parties that people are becoming more aware of their rights, which will put pressure on parties to deliver on their promises.
The code of conduct came into effect on Tuesday and will end only after the final results are out on February 21.
“Apart from the 10 civic bodies, 27 zilla parishads will go for elections on February 7,” Satyanarayan said. The SEC has set out a timeline for the process. Political parties will have to submit their nominations by January 31, while the last date for withdrawing candidature is February 3.
The SEC has left the decision of the exact counting and result dates to the discretion of the municipal commissioners.
“If the BMC commissioner says he wants to do the counting on February 16 itself, we don’t mind that,” Satyanarayan said, adding that the BMC’s term ends on March 9, before which the new corporation must be formed.
Sources said counting is likely to be on February 17.