After two months of election fever and a fortnight of hectic campaigning,Mumbai will vote on Thursday to elect a new council to run the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC),with the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine anxious about holding on to power in the face of anti-incumbency as well as the challenge of the newly formed Congress-NCP alliance.
Elections to Asias richest municipal body are being held in the backdrop of complaints of poor delivery of civic services such as roads,water supply and drainage,and charges of corruption and a corporator-official-contractor nexus.
Political observers say the election is likely to see close contest in over 40 wards,with the Shiv Sena being challenged by the MNS in its traditional strongholds. This is also the first election in which 50 per cent of the seats are reserved for women and that is expected to be a crucial factor influencing the outcome.
This time around,there is a huge jump in the number of citizens candidates with about 65 in the fray of a total of 2,232. The state election commissioner and the BMC have put up advertisements urging people to come out and vote,with the former sending out 50 lakh SMSes in Mumbai alone. About 45 per cent of the voters cast their ballot in 2007.
With 24,000 police officers on duty,polling across 2,009 locations and 8,395 booths will be carried out under tight security.