With the city yet again clocking a poor voting percentage, incumbent MLAs and candidates in their respective strongholds feel they have thwarted the BJP’s plans to upstage them. They opine that since less people turned up to vote, there was no ‘Modi wave’ this time, as had been witnessed in the Lok Sabha elections.
A polling centre in Shailendra Nagar, Dahisar had few people queuing up. Rival parties feel the BJP’s chances of winning have been dented with the low voter turnout. Pic/Nimesh Dave
The island city of Mumbai, with its 10 Assembly constituencies, recorded a voting percentage of 54.1 per cent. The figure in the suburbs, till 5 pm yesterday, stood at 52 per cent. This means the average turnout in the city was recorded as 53 per cent. Election officials said they would need till midnight to compile the complete data.
In the 2009 assembly elections, the city and suburbs had collectively clocked 46.1 per cent voting turnout. The entire city of Mumbai, including suburbs, had recorded an average voting percentage of 51.6 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Parties had expected an average voting attendance of 55 per cent, what with Prime Minister Narendra Modi convening two rallies in the city and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray also campaigning extensively.
“There was a (Modi) wave last time, and people came out in large numbers. But this time, there was no such wave and people didn’t come to vote as much. But, our Sena candidates have got votes and our chief minister will be sworn in,” claimed a confident Rahul Shewale, Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Mumbai South Central.
Another Sena leader added, “When people don’t come out in large numbers to vote, it is generally considered as a sign that they aren’t unhappy with the incumbent MLA. This means that many sitting MLAs are safe,” he said.
Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) spokesperson Uday Pratap Singh believes the Sena has an upper hand over the BJP, and that his own party and former ally Congress would retain most of their seats. “Except for the few Gujarati and Marwadi majority seats, the BJP won’t do well.
Had the voting percentage been higher, the BJP would have gained, but with these numbers it’s visible that people have not gone for the BJP and this will benefit the Sena. Our sitting NCP MLAs will emerge victorious, as even in those pockets voting percentage has been lower,” he said.
The BJP chose to blame the working day for the poor response. “The Election Commission couldn’t force the private sector to give its employees a day off, and with Diwali around the corner, many people couldn’t take leaves.
Hence the voting percentage is low,” said Sanjay Upadhyay, the party’s Mumbai vice-president. However, he cautioned further, “The low voter turnout will impact every political party. Our campaign was good and it worked.”
Right is wrong
Yesterday, a few polling officials seemed confused over which finger to ink. As per the EC rules, the left index finger is to be marked. But, many voters were inked on their right index finger.
Actress Rekha shows her voting mark incorrectly made on the right index finger. Pic/Azar Khan
Such cases were reported from Bandra, Sion and Jogeshwari. In Bandra, actress Rekha sported the wrongly-inked index finger. Similar situation was observed in the city during the LS polls too.
No ramps for senior citizens
In Malabar Hill constituency, several polling stations lacked ramps. At Activity High School, Pedder Road, authorities had failed to put up a ramp. Local resident Ramanuj Shastri (94) came on a wheelchair with his family.
A constable had to lift him and bring him inside due to absence of a ramp. Election officials had promised to put makeshift ‘dolis’ (fashioned out of chairs) in centres, but no such provision was made.
Text: Laxman Singh and Ankoor Anvekar