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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Maha polls: Navi Mumbai turnout dips

cities Updated: Oct 22, 2019 01:42 IST
G Mohiuddin Jeddy
G Mohiuddin Jeddy

The voter turnout for the Maharashtra Assembly election in Navi Mumbai, Panvel and Uran dipped on Monday, as compared to the 2014 state Assembly polls.

Uran continued its trend of posting the highest voting percentage — 73.23% — followed by Panvel at 54.29%, Belapur at 45.35%, and Airoli at 42.89%. In the 2014 Assembly elections, Airoli had recorded a voter turnout of 51.47%, Belapur 49.66%, Panvel 66.75% and Uran 77.75%.

Polling at the four Assembly constituencies was conducted in a peaceful manner, without any reports of untoward incidents.

Voting started at a very slow pace in the morning, with hardly a few voters seen at the polling booths. Amardeep Singh, a Vashi-based businessman, said, “There was little contest between the parties this time. A lot of voters seem to have decided to not go and vote. The Bharatiya Janata Party candidates are clearly the favourites and this could have led to the voter apathy.”

Another businessman, Nitin Sonawane, said a lot of Mathadi voters in the region have left for Satara to vote in their home town where both the Assembly election and Lok Sabha by-polls are being held. “This has certainly had an effect....The long weekend is another reason as several people have gone out for picnics.”

However, a lot of senior citizens were seen coming out to exercise their franchise. Octogenarian Mahesh Bange, who came to a polling booth in Vashi on a wheelchair, said, “I came especially to vote. I am old and physically-challenged, but I believe that this is my duty.” Leena Lad, 62, from Panvel, echoed Bange’s sentiments. “Why should I waste my vote? This is why I came to vote.”

Pushpa Telange, 55, a Panvel voter, too, said that though a lot of promises are made every time and nothing changes, she will continue to vote.

Former minister Ganesh Naik, who is contesting from Airoli was first among the politicians to cast his vote at R F Naik School in Kopar Khairane. He was accompanied by his wife, both sons former MP Sanjeev Naik and former MLA Sandeep Naik, their spouses, and his brother’s family, including his nephew — former mayor Sagar Naik.

Candidates from other constituencies, including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Belapur, Manda Mhatre, and her opponents Gajanan Kale of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Ashok Tawde of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), too, were seen voting in their respective areas with their families. Panvel MLA Prashant Thakur voted in Panvel along with his wife. Even as the voter turnout in the area under Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s jurisdiction area was dismal, there were some voters who had come all the way from Pune.

Shridhar Bange, 58, who had come to cast his vote at Sanpada said, “I am working in Pune now and my family has shifted recently, but I, along with my wife, have come to vote. We did not want it to go waste.”

Politicians in the district seemed upset over the lack of voters’ interest. Nitin Kandhari, vice president of Navi Mumbai unit of BJP, said, “We did our best to educate the voters on the importance to vote. We tried to facilitate their arrival at the polling booths as best as we could. We cannot possibly force anyone to vote.”