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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Voter Apathy: Mumbai Shows The Way!

Polling was held today for Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (BMC) and nine other municipal corporations of the state of Maharashtra. Low turnout has been the trend almost everywhere with average voting in the state put around 45% and the highest being just around 60%, 

For BMC, the richest civic body of India, the turnout was a dismal 30% till the latest reports came in. This is even lower than the poor 46% recorded in 2007. This is despite the huge propaganda and campaigning and the continuous educative messages to citizens to definitely exercise their basic fundamental democratic right. This is despite today being declared a holiday for all state government and private offices, banks and establishments. Mumbai just did not want to vote. 

What could be the reasons? Maybe due to the hundred-something potholes in the city that plagued Mumbaikars throughout the rainy season and even afterwards. Or maybe they just wanted an extended weekend to go out for a trip. Or maybe they wanted to enjoy sitting at home watching the idiot box. 

But demonstration of such monstrous apathy is hardly a solution. You must vote irrespective of whether you do want an alternative or do not want a change. There were three alternatives available—the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine that ruled BMC for the past 16 years and joined by the Republican Party of India too this time, the ruling coalition of Maharashtra-Congress + Nationalist Congress Party-who joined hands for the first time to fight BMC elections and the youths’ favorites Maharahstra Navnirman Sena (MNS—breakaway party under Raj Thackeray from Shiv Sena) who made tremendous inroads into Mumbai in its maiden effort during the last Assembly Elections in 2009. Thanks to the involvement of these huge political groups this hard-fought BMC elections has been termed a mini-assembly election or a semi-final to the coming big elections in 2014. But Mumbaikars were not interested. 

A little interesting fact that may be of more use for Mumbaikars! In view of the municipality elections the state government had declared dry days on 15th, 16th and 17th February, 2012. The Bar owners appealed against this order in the High Court citing disastrous losses for a business already under pressure.  Today the High Court delivered the verdict asking the government to allow the bars to open tomorrow evening after counting of votes is over. Business loss was not the reason cited in the verdict. The justification was to allow ‘the victorious to celebrate and the defeated depressed to drown their sorrows’! 

Meanwhile suspense builds up for tomorrow’s counting. Anyone interested? 

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