Low voter turnout amid heat wave mars daytime polling in Maharashtra | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Low voter turnout amid heat wave mars daytime polling in Maharashtra

May 20, 2024 03:14 PM IST

Six Mumbai constituencies are witnessing neck-and-neck battles between ruling and opposition alliances; the ruling alliance has an edge in 4 remaining MMR seats

The fifth and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections witnessed slow voting in 13 constituencies, including 10 in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), amidst the scorching heat and complaints of lack of basic facilities. The six Mumbai constituencies are witnessing neck-and-neck battles between ruling and opposition alliances, while the ruling alliance has an edge in the four remaining seats in the MMR.

A woman casts her vote in Thane. (HT Photo/Praful Gangurde)
A woman casts her vote in Thane. (HT Photo/Praful Gangurde)

As of 1 pm, Maharashtra reported a voter turnout of 27.78%, with Mumbai constituencies reporting lower percentages ranging from 24.46% to 28.82%. In contrast, the tribal-dominated ST reserved constituency of Dindori in Nashik district reported the highest turnout at 33.25% in the first six hours.

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Voter turnout in Mumbai varied across constituencies, with Mumbai North reporting 26.78%, Mumbai North West 28.41%, North East 28.82%, North Central 28.05%, South Central 27.21%, and South 24.46%. The four MMR constituencies also reported low turnout, with Thane at 26.05%, Kalyan at 22.52%, Bhiwandi at 27.34%, and Palghar at 31.06%. The three north Maharashtra seats of Nashik, Dindori, and Dhule reported comparatively higher voting percentages of 28.51%, 33.25%, and 28.73%, respectively.

Trends in the first four hours until 11 am indicated that Muslim-dominated areas like Mumbadevi and Byculla reported poor turnout compared to other Assembly segments in South Mumbai. In contrast, the plush Malabar Hill Assembly segment in South Mumbai witnessed the highest voting among the five Assembly segments. Similarly, Gujarati-Rajasthani dominated areas such as Charkop, Mulund, and Ghatkopar experienced high voter turnout compared to other Assembly segments.

Several high-profile battles are taking place in Mumbai constituencies. In Mumbai North, Union Minister Piyush Goyal faces Congress's Bhushan Patil in a constituency considered favorable to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) due to the dominance of Gujarati-speaking voters. In South Mumbai, sitting Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Arvind Sawant is pitted against Yamini Jadhav, the candidate from the breakaway faction of Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Former special public prosecutor Ad Ujjwal Nikas is the BJP candidate from Mumbai North Central, contesting against Mumbai Congress chief and MLA Varsha Gaikwad. Mumbai South Central is witnessing a fight between sitting Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) MP Rahul Shewale and Shiv Sena-UBT leader Anil Desai. In Mumbai North East, BJP MLA Mihir Kotecha faces a close contest against Shiv Sena-UBT leader Sanjay Dina Patil, while in Mumbai North West, Amol Kirtikar (Sena-UBT) is up against Ravindra Waikar of the Shinde faction.

Kalyan and Thane are prestigious seats for Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, with his son and sitting MP Shrikant Shinde contesting in Kalyan against Vaishali Darekar (Sena-UBT), a comparatively lightweight candidate. In Thane, Shinde's home ground, Sena-UBT has fielded its sitting MP Rajan Vichare against former mayor Naresh Mhaske, the Shinde Sena candidate.

In Bhiwandi, Union Minister and sitting MP Kapil Patil is contesting as the BJP candidate against Suresh Mhatre of NCP (SP), with Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi's Nilesh Sambare making it a three-corner fight. Nashik sees a neck-and-neck contest between Union Minister Bharati Pawar (BJP) and Bhaskar Bhagare of NCP (SP), with unrest among onion growers, who dominate the constituency, making the contest tougher for the ruling alliance. In Nashik, sitting MP Hemant Godse (Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde) faces a tough contest against Shiv Sena (UBT) contender Prakash Waje, with independent candidate Swami Shantigiri Maharaj expected to divide the Hindu votes.

Mumbai city and Kalyan in Thane district witnessed low turnout, with voters complaining of lack of basic amenities and discrepancies in the rules at some polling booths. Parag Chavan, a former Shiv Sena (UBT) corporator from Parel, stated, "At the polling booths in MD college, Veterinary College in Parel, there were no basic amenities like fans, drinking water and wheelchair. When asked by the contractor who had shouldered the responsibility, he was evasive. Many voters returned home without voting."

At St Paul School polling booths, voters were not allowed to enter the premises with mobile phones, leading to crowding outside the school as voters made their relatives stand with mobiles to take turns voting one by one. "Many left without voting, while others had to go back to keep their belongings and mobiles home. On other polling stations, mobiles were allowed after switching them off," said a voter who wished to remain anonymous.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and former minister Aditya Thackeray released a video on X, requesting the Election Commission to provide basic amenities at polling stations. He said, "The voting at the snail's pace at many Mumbai polling booths is owing to the lack of fasciitis like drinking water, fans and waiting areas. There was confusion among the voters whether the watches and mobile phones are allowed inside the booths. This has caused a hardship to the voters. I would request the EC to look into it urgently and help voters to vote without any hassle."

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, "I have requested the EC to look into the complaints of the poor turnout in Mumbai. I have requested Mumbai and Mumbai suburban collectors to ensure that the voters do not face any hardship."

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