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Lok Sabha polls 2019: Will Mumbai do better than its best?

While Election Commission officials are creating awareness, high temperature and long weekend may discourage people

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 29, 2019 08:00 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Lok Sabha polls,2019 election
Election officials at a distribution centre, a day ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, at Dadar in Mumbai on Sunday. (Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

Will the city and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) be able maintain its 2014 voting percentage in this Lok Sabha polls?

Both the island city and the suburbs, although infamous for low percentage of voting, had witnessed an increase of 10% in the turnout last time, thanks to the Modi wave. In the 2014 elections, Mumbai’s voting percentage was 52.66%, higher than 41.40% in 2009.

However, with no visible wave in sight, coupled with high temperature and lower enthusiasm among electorate, and extended weekend, there is uncertainty over the turnout. As part of its efforts, the state election machinery has released a series of advertisements and appeals, urging people to come out and exercise their franchise. Ashwini Kumar, state chief electoral officer, said, “Low percentage has always been a matter of concern. It has been observed that there is poor voting in urban areas compared to rural areas. However, this needs to change this time. Mumbai is the commercial capital of India. We have created an environment, so voters can vote without fear.”

Milind Mhaske, director, non-government organisation Praja Foundation, said there won’t be a significant decrease in voting percentage. “There will be some reduction, considering the lack of enthusiasm or long holiday, but it will not be very significant,” said Mhaske.

Unlike 2014, there are not many deletions this time. The focus was on addition of new voters. Traders, who were hardcore Modi supporters, are a little less enthusiastic this time. According to the president of a leading traders’ association, there is no visible enthusiasm among traders. “Our trade suffered badly in the past five years and still continues to languish. We have always been BJP supporters and see no alternative to Modi. However, we may not throng the polling booths with our families, unlike last time,” he said.

Political analyst Pratap Asbe said, “In 2014, we saw people debating about elections. There was a huge number of floating voters who cast their ballot.”

As establishments have declared a holiday for voting on Monday and Wednesday (May 1) being a public holiday, officegoers have the option of a five-day weekend, if they opt for leave on Tuesday.

Vile Parle resident Ramesh Chheda, who has gone to Goa for the holidays, said, “The whole day we were bombarded with advertisements of political parties on TV and radios. There is hardly any choice for us.”

Chembur-based ALMs have started a WhatsApp campaign, where they have asked their members to ensure every voter in their building exercises his franchise. “Our volunteer will visit each apartment in his building in the afternoon and ask those who have not voted to cast their ballot,” said Rajkumar Sharma, the president of the federation of these 40 ALMs.

The Khar Residents’ Association (KRA) will put up laptops in their library, to guide people to the voting booth. “The association will have 50 students going to each building, requesting people to vote. Approximately 70 volunteers will help the old reach the booths,” said Anandini Thakoor, managing trustee, KRA.

First Published: Apr 29, 2019 01:25 IST

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