In Ghatkopar, Gujaratis turn out in large numbers

Voters in the Gujarati dominated areas of Ghatkopar east of the Mumbai North East constituency, came out in large numbers. (PTI) Voters in the Gujarati dominated areas of Ghatkopar east of the Mumbai North East constituency, came out in large numbers. (PTI)

-MUMBAI NORTH EAST-

With a strong anti-incumbency sentiment in mind, voters in the Gujarati dominated areas of Ghatkopar east of the Mumbai North East constituency, came out in large numbers, defying the scorching heat to vote for a “strong leader”. At three prominent polling centres — Garodia Nagar, Tilak Road and 60Feet Road — the voting percentage was 55 per cent, 65 per cent and 63 per cent respectively by 5pm, indicating a high turnout, said polling authorities.

Priyanka Gorasia, 21, a first time voter said, “I have had numerous debates with my friends on who to vote for. I also recently visited Ahmedabad and realised that Modi has indeed done a good job.” Ria Gokhar, 22, another first time voter, said, “Corruption, inflation and anti-incumbency are the key factors that have influenced me as a voter.”

Sharing a similar sentiment, voter Rajesh Shah (57), said, “I am voting against corruption, poor leadership and inflation that has caused widespread suffering to the citizens of this country. I will mince no word in saying that Modi has my vote.”

From 7am, a steady line of senior citizens and married couples was observed at Garodia International School in Garodia Nagar which had nine polling booths and a total of 9,877 registered voters. According to a polling officer at the centre, 70 per cent of the early morning voters were senior citizens and first time young voters were found missing.

At Ramji Assar Vidyalaya on M.G. Road in Ghatkopar east, polling officers were amazed at the morning turnout. “Its an extremely high turnout as compared to past elections. Unlike previous elections where peak hours were between 3 pm and 5 pm, we are witnessing a peak hour between 9 pm and 11 pm itself,” said a presiding officer at the booth. (By Priyal Dave)

In slums, women take the lead

The large slum belt comprising Mankhurd-Mandala and Shivaji Nagar-Bainganwadi areas saw a larger voter turnout than usual, more so amongst women. An election department official at the Shivaji Nagar Municipal School no 2 polling station said the voter turnout here has been higher than last time especially amongst women.

Anwari Mallik, 50, who could not vote because her name was missing from the polls said more women had come out to vote because they could identify with a candidate for the first time in Aam Aadmi Party’s Medha Patkar. While these backward slum belts, around the periphery of the Deonar dumping ground, have traditionally voted for the Congress-NCP candidate, many of them said that they saw a credible alternative in Patkar.

Patkar alleged that NCP workers of candidate Sanjay Dina Patil had intimidated voters Wednesday night asking them to vote for the “clock” only. “They were distributing money to voters and threatening then. I called up the election commission flying squad and police, along with the exact location and vehicle numbers but no action was taken. A number of cases of bogus voting have also been reported. Deletion of names has happened,” she said.

Kamrunissa Ali Ahmed, who cast her vote at Rafi Nagar Municipal School, said  many cars came to their locality late Wednesday night, asking them to vote for NCP candidate. Voters from Rafi Nagar, Baba Nagar, Chikhalwadi, Annabhau Sathe Nagar, Mandala and Nirankari Colony slums complained that their names were missing from the rolls even though they had voted as recently as in civic elections of 2012. (By Stuti Shukla)

-MUMBAI NORTH-WEST-

Scorching heat did nothing to discourage voters at poll booths in Andheri (West) on Thursday. The sea-facing locality of Juhu saw a surprisingly high turnout, with youngsters and first time voters flocking to centers post-lunch.

Election officers at Gandhi Gram School opposite ISKCON Temple, reported a 25 percent turnout just past noon. Eighty-year-old retired microbiology professor Dr. Omkarnath Bhardwaj was amongst the first voters at the school, while his wife Manoramarani Bhardwaj voted at noon.

“It is us elders who always vote most frequently. But I see lot more youngsters voting this time,” he said. Among celebrities, actor Raza Murad and MP hopeful Kirron Kher voted at the school.

Murad, who said he had come to Mumbai from Agra specially to cast his vote, was critical of the film stars who had travelled to the USA for the IIFA. “Big starts are role models for the public. By choosing to go to the awards they are sending a wrong message. The awards show should have been postponed,” he said.

Voting was also conducted in organised fashion at St. Joseph’s School, Juhu, where the pace picked up late in the afternoon. “People are streaming in steadily and we have been kept constantly on our toes,” said zone officer Santosh Patil. By the time polling ended at 6 pm, the center had seen a 50 percent turnout.

In tony Lokhandwala, the Ganesh Mandir Trust polling center in first cross lane, confusion prevailed briefly when a section of locals could not locate their names on the rolls. “We are getting so many complaints only because people are coming in large numbers to vote,” said assistant zone officer S. S. Patnaik.

At 6 pm, the final voter turnout at the center stood at 45.32 percent. “Of 11,583 registered voters, 5250 people cast their vote,” Patnaik said. (By Srinath Rao)

Koli community steals the show

Koli women in their colourful nine-yard sarees stood out among summery dresses, sunglasses, shorts and flip-flops of Versova’s tony film and television crowd. The descendents of the city’s first tribe, came out to vote at the Children’s welfare centre (CWC) school, located right behind the Versova Koliwada where the smell of fish lingered.

Their sentiments were summarised by 68-year-old Shatuntala Terekar, “We want a leader who will protect us. Whether he is well-educated or not is not important. He should be a good person and should stand up for us if we run into trouble.”

One of the important problems that the community faces is the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that have thwarted hopes of redevelopment of their dilapidated tenements. The relaxation of the rules to facilitate better housing for the Koli community has been a political promise from Lok Sabha candidates trying to woo them for votes.

A little over a month before the Lok Sabha elections, representatives of the Koli community also had a 40-minute meeting with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, during which they voiced many of their concerns.

Sanjay Gohil, 30,  a fisherman said, “Fishing is our livelihood. We want a leader who will bring down fuel prices ,which will make running our motor boats more affordable.”

Majority of the voters from the Versova Koliwada polled at two centres – the Children’s Welfare Centre school and the Posha Nakhwa Municipal School (PNMC).

While the voting percentage at 6 pm at CWC was 44.16 percent, that at the Posha Nakhwa school was 40.44 percent. (by Mayura Janwalkar)

‘UNRULY’ ELDERS

Senior citizens are known to be the most enthusiastic voter category, with a majority of them turning out to vote right in the morning despite their health conditions. However, at a polling booth in Garodia Nagar, an early morning queue saw tension brewing among two sections of senior citizens. With those above 80 years of age allowed to skip the line by sympathetic young voters, the ones in their early 60s created an uproar. Onlookers, mostly comprising voters in their 30s and 40s could do very little as the two age groups within the ‘senior citizen’ category suddenly began jumping the queue. The polling officials too found themselves in a fix at the situation.

HUNGER ‘STRIKES’

Although he meticulously flipped through the lists of registered voters and handed over voting slips to them, a booth polling official in Bhendi Bazar expressed anguish over not getting food. The officer said he had been sitting at the same place since 6 am and had gone to relieve himself only once. “The higher ups should have made arrangements for food. I have been sitting here all day and nobody has even bothered to give me a cup of tea,” he said. The official even criticised the zonal officer for not taking care of  subordinates and said, “When I had to go to the toilet, I asked a police constable to sit at my place. I had to rush back within a couple of minutes.”

RIGHT IS MIGHT

Mumbaikars who didn’t show up at polling centres could learn a lesson or two from 97-year-old Shrikrishna Upadhye, who turned up to vote at Hussain Allana English School in Versova. The gentleman, although frail in appearance, did not let the rising afternoon temperature mar his determination to cast his vote. A volunteer offered to give him a piggyback ride to his polling booth on the first floor as there was no wheelchair available.

“He was going to walk otherwise,” said Upadhye’s granddaughter.

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