BMC polls: Seniors vote, youngsters stay away

Feb 17, 2012, 09:47 IST | Team MiD DAY

As nearly half of city's voters chose to stay home and ring in an extended weekend, some extraordinary senior citizens and disabled people braved the odds to honour their commitment to democracy

As nearly half of city's voters chose to stay home and ring in an extended weekend, some extraordinary senior citizens and disabled people braved the odds to honour their commitment to democracy

Senior citizens, who stood in queues for hours to exercise their franchise, looked determined to bring about positive changes in the society and cure the system of corruption cancer. Take the case of Mitra Gorti (72) and his wife Sarita (70) who exercised their franchise at Bosari Colony. The elderly couple said they had voted for the changing in the PMC governing body as it was necessary to stop corruption.

Sadu Bagade (108)
Sadu Bagade
108-year-old from Dayari Bagade says he has never missed voting
since becoming eligible for it. He says he finds the electronic voting
machine system easier than the ballot paper system of old.

Bhausaheb Dage
Bhausaheb Dage
9o-year-old from Shukrawar Peth
The nonagenarian says corruption is the main problem in our society.

Several elderly voters demanded improvement of the condition of roads in the city. Sharad Chobe (77) and Sudha Chobe (70) from Sukrawar Peth said the water woes of their area should be solved. Bhausaheb Dage (90) from Sukhrawar Peth said, "Corruption is the main problem of our society." Sadu Bagade (108) from Dayari, who has never missed voting since became eligible for voting, said, "The EVM system is easier than the ballot paper system."

Sachin Barkar
Sachin Barkar
33-year-old who lost use of his right leg in a mishap
Says he got no assistance to climb the stairs of the Indira Nagar polling
booth, but that it did not prevent him from exercising his franchise.

First-time voters
The first-time voters yesterday made a beeline at booths to explore the power of the poll button to weed corruption out of day-to-day life. Take the case of Anmay Kulkarni, a first time voter from Shukrawar Peth, said, "I feel that the candidates should do whatever they have mentioned in the manifesto. They should not make false promises and mislead the voters. People should vote give candidates a chance."

Tejashvi Khadke
Young blood: Tejashvi Khadke

Shabeena Khan

Anmay Kulkarni
Anmay Kulkarni cast their first vote yesterday. Pics/Pooja Wagh

Another first timer Tejashvi Khadke echoed Peth's sentiments. "If we vote educated and clean image candidates to power, it will help check corruption in our day-to-day life," said Khadke. Shabeena Khan, student of a city college and first time voter, also stressed on the need to bring about changes in the education system of the country. "We should vote educated candidates to power."

Undeterred by alleged lack of special facilities in polling booths, disabled people came out to exercise their franchise yesterday, inadvertently giving food for thought to common voters who think it is fashionable not to cast vote and spend the public holiday partying instead.

Though the PMC claims to have made special provisions for the handicapped, several differently abled people complained that they had to face a lot of difficulties while casting their votes as no essential facilities were provided to them.

PMC deputy commissioner Vilas Kanade, however, contested the claims. "We had made special provisions for handicapped people. This time we had kept all polling booths on the ground floor keeping convenience in mind. We had deployed guards to assist them and make their voting process easier."

When MiD DAY conducted a reality check at a polling booth at Fatima Nagar to cross-check the deputy commissioner claim, it witnessed that two visually impaired voters were made to run from one hall to the another without any assistance from officials manning the booth.

Sunil Dharvadkar
Paralysis no handicap: Sunil Dharvadkar, who suffered a paralysis
attack three years ago, cast his vote. Pic / Pooja Wagh

Babulal Gengla (73), a visually impaired and a crippled man from Fatima Nagar, was made to stand in the queue for nearly 15 minutes after which he was told to go towards another room polling for his ward was happening in another room.

"I had a harrowing time standing in the queue. They did not even offer me a chair to sit or a glass of water. But I did not cower to these difficulties as my first priority was to exercise my franchise," said Gengla.
Sunil Dharvadkar, another senior citizen who suffered a paralysis attack three years ago, had to stand in the queue as the officials were too busy with their own work and there was no body to assist him at a booth in Shadasiv Peth. "It is a rule that handicapped should be given first preference and all facilities should be provided to them. But everybody is busy with their own work, people have no time for us I guess."

Take the case of Sachin Barkar (33), who lost his right leg in an accident. While he was trying to climb the stairs of the Indira Nagar polling booth, there was no body to assist him. "I had to manage every thing on my own. Before election, we were told all sorts of assistance would be provided to us, but we were treated like general voters," he said.

Advocate Asim Sarode had filed a petition in 2006 highlighting problems faced by differently abled people while climbing the stairs of government buildings. After this a ramp built in the Pune court. He told MiD Day that he had got calls from several handicapped persons who faced problems climbing stairs of polling booth. They complained even though the booths were made on the ground floor, handicapped voters had to climb a few stairs to enter the building premises.

Frustrated by alleged apathy of the BMC officials, some handicapped people had to return without casting their votes. "Voting is one of our political rights. It is government's responsibility to ensure that every citizen gets the opportunity to exercise his franchise."

Compare and contrast
PMC Election 2012: 51%

Manipur Assembly Election 2012: 82%

Kashmir panchayat Election 2011: 80%

West Bengal Assembly Election 2011: 82%

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