On Thursday, you get the chance to have your say in how Mumbai should be governed and which political group should rule the civic body for the next five years.
That’s if you choose to step out and cast your vote. If you don’t, you can keep complaining about the sorry state of the roads, the supply of contaminated water and the delay in building infrastructure, but you are just as responsible for the mess.
Complaining, but doing nothing would be in keeping with Mumbai’s voting tradition. In HT-Cfore survey conducted last November, only 52% respondents said they would vote, 23% said they wouldn’t, 25% were unsure.
In the last three civic polls, more than half of Mumbaiites have not bothered to vote. The voting percentage has ranged from a dismal 42% to 46%.
In the 2009 Assembly polls, which came on the back of the 26/11 attacks, the turnout was 46%. This despite citizen anger with the way the government had handled the attacks, which expressed itself in candle-lit vigils and protests.
“By voting, we can claim the city for ourselves. The corporator is the most visible politician and a large citizen mandate can pressurise the system to change,” said Ajit Ranade from the Association of Democratic Rights.
It’s important to vote because otherwise you’ll end up with candidates who have won with votes as low as three percent. These elected representatives won’t represent you and will have no reason to address your concerns, but they will have a say on how your money, collected as taxes and amounting to Rs21,000 crore a year, is spent.
If you are unhappy with the candidates, register a protest vote. If you don’t trust politicians, choose from citizen candidates. As Ranade said: “Ushering in changes in governance is a journey of thousand steps, but the first step starts with voting.”