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Will Mumbaikars beat the siesta for vote?

Mumbai has the dubious distinction of recording dismal voting percentage in the BMC election.

The Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) had appealed to Mumbaikars to come forward and cast their votes for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election but will the city witness better voter turnout this time? Mumbai has the dubious distinction of recording dismal voting percentage in the civic body election. Even NGOs had held voter awareness campaign to educate people about the importance of voting. This time youth have been roped in large numbers to improve voting percentage. Many of them have launched social media campaign to interact and connect with citizens. An event page on facebook was created where around 1700 to 2000 people had taken pledge to vote. Thus a question which arises here is whether Mumbai will witness better voter turnout this time.

Ajit Kumar a TY Bsc student from Kandivali said, “I have registered my name in the voting list and looking forward to vote for the first time. This time the Election Commission had laid emphasis to increase the enrolment of youth who will turn up at the polling booth for the first time to vote.”

Sujit Desai a marketing executive employed with a FMCG firm in Andheri said, “People blame the government for poor governance but how will it improve if they don’t vote. Citizens should be aware about the candidates contesting election in their locality and the work done by them in the past. Even people need to be responsible and exercise their franchise.”

Around 2.39 lakh new voters have registered themselves in the city. Thus the total number of voters have reached 91,80,635, out of a population of 1.24 crore. Even though 70 per cent citizens are registered voters but voting percentage in the city has never crossed 50 per cent mark. During the 2012 Mumbai civic elections, only 42 per cent voters cast their votes.
They don’t even see that they suffer despite BMC’s annual budget of Rs 37,000 crore, making it the richest civic body in India. On the other hand, the voting percentage has increased in zilla parishad polls held in other cities.

“Mumbai always have recorded low voting percentage. However this time we are expecting that more people will come forward to cast their votes,” said a senior official who has been assigned electoral duty.

Sumit Jain a businessman from Borivali said, “People don’t take voting seriously in the city. If polling date falls between a long weekend then they move out of the metropolis for enjoying their vacations. Many others are lazy and don’t want to venture out of their house to exercise their franchise. Some of them are unaware about how to register their names and whom to contact for the same. While some people have voter ids they might not be able to cast their vote if their names don’t appear in voting list.”

Adequate security arrangements have been made in the city ahead of BMC polls. In addition, SEC will also be deploying 750 buses for election duty, along with 290 mini and regular private buses.

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