Whenever Mumbaikars have leisure, they leave for picnics or to the tourist spots. Mumbai will be going to polls on April 29 this month. The government of Maharashtra has declared holidays on the day of poll. It means April 29 is a holiday only for exercising the right of voting. However, the voter turnout of Mumbai has been very poor so far. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the polling percentage of Mumbai was 52.66 per cent, which is much below than 60 per cent average in Maharashtra. Therefore, the question before the residents of Mumbai is “Vote or Not?” They have to decide that they want to enjoy the holiday on April 29 or they will break the trend and turnout heavily to elect their proper representatives, terming April 29 as a holistic day for the Indian democracy.
Deputy Collector Rajesh Joshi spoke to Afternoon Voice and said, “We have started (SVEEP) Systematic Voters Enrolment and Education Programme to make people aware of the importance of voting. We visit every society, erect hoardings, banner and approach celebrities. We also use social media to spread awareness. Campaigning is undertaken at BEST bus stops. As a Deputy Collector, I appeal to the citizens to exercise their franchise.”
April 27 is the fourth Saturday. Almost all the central government offices will remain closed. April 28 is Sunday. April 29 is the poll day in Mumbai and its neighbouring areas. Maharashtra Day on May 1 is again a holiday. Thus, by taking one day leave on April 30, employees and their families can enjoy a 5-day long weekend. Activists fear that if it happens so, the polling percentage of Mumbai may fall.
Roopa Pinto, President of NGO Sakhi Saheli Ek Vishwas said, “Whenever the government declares holiday, citizens don’t take things seriously and don’t cast their votes. They make holiday plans. People enjoy their holiday for one day and bear the government for five years.”
“We always campaign and appeal to people to cast their votes whether it be general elections, assembly polls, or corporation elections. I appeal to people to first exercise their franchise and later on indulge in celebrations. Your one vote can bring several changes and don’t forget to cast your votes,” she added.
Social activist Anil Nalwade said, “People should cast their votes and later on go for holidays. If the government has declared holiday for election, then people should exercise their franchise. The government must impose fines against people who don’t cast their votes. If people don’t vote, the wrong candidates might get elected.”
Polling in 48 constituencies in the state of Maharashtra will be held in four phases on April 11, April 18, April 23, and April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
Officer on Special Duty Subhash Dalvi said, “There is a long weekend. So, I appeal to people to take two days holiday and exercise their franchise on the third day. Holiday comes every year but the general elections come in every five years. To create voter awareness, we have erected posters and hoardings at the airports. This year, voter turnout will increase by 10 to 12 per cent.”
The Constitution of India has granted the right to vote to all Indian citizens above the age of 18. Voting is not a fundamental right but is a legal right granted to the citizens. As per the Indian Constitution, all Indian citizens above the age of 18 years, who have registered themselves in voter list as voters, are eligible to vote. Any person can be detained or prevented from voting unless is disqualified.
Due to work hours and working days, generally, people refrain from casting their votes. To avoid the inconvenience for working class people, the Maharashtra government has announced a public holiday on the day of polling for the Lok Sabha elections, which will be held this month. This holiday will be phase-wise in different constituencies. The notification issued by the Maharashtra government will be applicable for the state and central government offices followed by semi-government offices, public enterprise, and educational institutions. This will also apply to the employees who work outside their constituency.
People should be encouraged to participate in the election process and turnout for voting. For this, awareness is necessary among the common public. All political parties, governments, NGOs, organizations should take this awareness campaign on top priority and they should leave no stone unturned.
In the first phase of elections on April 11, the state government has issued a notification declaring a public holiday in Lok Sabha constituencies including Wardha, Ramtek, Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur, and Yavatmal-Washim.
The voting for the second phase will begin on April 18, 2019, in Buldhana, Akola, Amravati, Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur, and Solapur constituencies.
For the third phase of LS polls, the Maharashtra government has announced a public holiday on April 23. The constituencies include Jalgaon, Raver, Jalna, Aurangabad, Raigad, Pune, Baramati, Ahmednagar, Madha, Sangli, Satara, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, and Hatkanangale.
The fourth phase of the LS elections in Maharashtra will be held on April 29 and a public holiday has been declared for the voters in constituencies including Nandurbar, Dhule, Dindori, Nashik, Palghar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Thane, Mumbai North, Mumbai North West, Mumbai North East, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai South Central, Mumbai South, Maval, Shirur and Shirdi.