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Phone-a-friend for poll Qs

Mumbai NGO launches telephone helpline to answer queries about candidates of BMC election
 
Got a question about the candidates from your ward? You can now call up a telephone helpline that promises to answer all your questions.

Unique Global Foundation, an NGO, started a telephone helpline on February 1 to clear voters' doubts on everything from voter ID cards, the election process, voting booths to  candidate information.

The helpline, launched by the Mumbai-based NGO, is also open to helping candidates for the upcoming Municipal Corporation and Zilla Parishad elections in Maharashtra.

"We have received approval from the Maharashtra State Election Commission to provide such a facility for voters and candidates," said NGO trustee Arundhati Chavan.

Other trustees include Sunita Godbole and Akshay Chavan. Former Chief Secretary V Ranganathan, advocate Vijay Hiremath and Bhim Raskar, a representative of Mahila Rajsatta Andolan, form part of the advisory committee.

The helpline operates from 10 AM to 7 PM. Within a day of being operational, the helpline received 100 calls. Godbole said, "Questions ranged from common ones like 'What do I do if I don't have a voting card' to 'How do I get a card if I no longer reside in the area from where the original card is issued'."

Candidates are concerned about issues like getting their symbol for the election, declaring assets, etc, Godbole added.

"We are able to answer these questions, because the people who have earlier contested for the election are on this board and have the required expertise," she said.

The helpline numbers are 24377230 and 24377331 and will be functional till polling day February 16.

409 candidates withdraw
Of a total 3,234 candidates who filed their nomination for the 227 seats of the BMC, 409 have withdrawn their candidature. These include Anna Rokade of the Shiv Sena, and Baburam Agrahari, Sankalp Sharma and Mangal Bhanusali from BJP. The BJP city chief Raj Purohit's daughter-in-law Hema had withdrawn her nomination last Wednesday. Many explained their decision by stating that they chose to toe the party line and took their nomination back. Some, whom everyone expected would withdraw, but didn't include BJP corporator Arvind Bane's wife, Ujwala, MLC Parag Alvani's wife, Jyoti and Sena corporator Raja Chougle.

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