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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Maha polls: In Mumbai’s eastern suburbs, Mankhurd fares worst

cities Updated: Oct 22, 2019 01:50 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman and Sagar Pillai
Tanushree Venkatraman and Sagar Pillai

In the eastern suburbs, the areas of Vikhroli (55.54%), Bhandup (56.93%) and Ghatkopar (West) (55.03%) saw a high voter turnout on Monday, while the slum pockets of Anushakti Nagar (55.30%) and Chandivali (52.33%) saw a high rise in voter turnout compared to the 2014 Assembly elections, according to the Election Commission (EC) data.

Mulund (53.20%) and Ghatkopar (E) (50.53%) saw a drop in voter turnout compared to the previous elections. The BJP has replaced sitting MLAs with new candidates this election in these two constituencies.

The areas of Vikhroli, Bhandup and Ghatkopar are considered to be saffron strongholds owing to the large number of traditional Maharashtrian voters here. While Shiv Sena candidate Sunil Raut is seeking another term from Vikhroli, Sena corporator Ramesh Korgaonkar is competing from Bhandup. In Ghatkopar (West), sitting MLA Ram Kadam is facing a Sena rebel, Sanjay Bhalerao. A party functionary from Vikhroli said, “Many of the slum and chawl residents had to wait in long queues to cast their votes, but the response was good in Vikhroli and Bhandup.”

Of all constituencies in the eastern suburbs, Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar registered the lowest voter turnout, with only 44.82% citizens voting on Monday. In Anushakti Nagar, an area dominated by the minority community, the voter turnout was 55.30% on Monday against 46.74% in the 2014 Assembly polls. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) city unit chief Nawab Malik is contesting against Shiv Sena’s Tukaram Kate here.

Habib Khan, 82, who could barely walk said his family members did not allow him to cast his vote considering his health. He said, “A single vote can be the deciding factor. My polling booth is a 20-minute walk from my home and I reached here on my own. My family refused to help me reach the booth. I have only come here to vote for the NCP.”

Even though the volunteers are only allowed to help voters get in and out of the booth, the two girls volunteering at the Shahaji Nagar school in Cheetah Camp not only took him to the booth, but dropped him back to his house.

In Mulund and Ghatkopar (E), senior citizens were happier with the services on Monday. Shanta Demla, 81 year old resident of Mulund, who has been voting since six decades said that this is the first time she got a polling booth on the ground floor. “Till the last election, our booth was at Mulund gymkhana where I had to climb a floor. The situation is better this year, as out booth got changed,” Demla said.

Many voters could not find their names on the list on Monday. In Ghatkopar’s Pant Nagar, names of at least 50 voters were missing. The situation was similar at Chembur’s Swami Vivekanand College. Neha Deva, resident of Sindhi Colony in Chembur, said, “I was told by the help desk that my name is not on the list. After visiting the nearby booths for nearly two hours with my 85-year-old mother, I found my name in the first booth. Several residents from my building faced the same issue.”

On Monday, school students across the suburbs were seen helping voters find their booths. According to a school teacher from Govandi, who was posted in Mulund, the students were trained to help citizens find their booths. “This opportunity also gave them a chance to be a part of the democratic system,” the teacher said.