Rain, turnout on their mind: Mumbai votes todayhttps://indianexpress.com/elections/rain-turnout-on-their-mind-mumbai-votes-today-6079459/

Rain, turnout on their mind: Mumbai votes today

As the city heads to polling booths on Monday, 1.68 lakh voters have been added to its electoral rolls since it last voted for the Lok Sabha elections in April.

Rain, turnout on their mind: Mumbai votes today
Several factors are at play in determining how many will make it to the polling booths. A crucial factor is rain as it made an unexpected comeback in the last two days. (Representational Image)

In 2014, the 36 Assembly constituencies in Mumbai recorded a voter turnout of an average 53 per cent, the highest for an Assembly poll since 1967 when the turnout was 67.5 per cent. As the city heads to polling booths on Monday, 1.68 lakh voters have been added to its electoral rolls since it last voted for the Lok Sabha elections in April.

In April, elections to the six Lok Sabha constituencies witnessed an average of 55 per cent voter turnout, the highest in a Lok Sabha election since 1989. In another first, since 1989, each of the six constituencies also breached the 50 per cent-turnout mark.

The highest turnout of 59.32 per cent was recorded in the North constituency, a BJP stronghold, during the Lok Sabha polls. This was at least six percentage points higher than the turnout recorded in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when it was 53.07 per cent. This time, Mumbai has 97.72 lakh registered voters. There are 334 candidates contesting from its 36 Assembly constituencies and it is to be seen whether the city will breach its 2014 voter turnout on Monday.

Several factors are at play in determining how many will make it to the polling booths. A crucial factor is rain as it made an unexpected comeback in the last two days.

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“I live in Andheri now but I am still a registered voter in Goregaon where I lived earlier. I want to cast my vote but if it rains, I will have to think twice before stepping out. I don’t want to get stuck,” said 76-year-old Anand Jamkhedkar.

Activist Vaishnavi Jayakumar, a disability rights advocate, said the pandals set up by the Election Commission might get damaged due to rain. “Rains may force even handicapped voters to stay indoors,” she said.

In his last public address in Maharashtra before polling day at the MMRDA ground in Bandra Kurla Complex on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too reminded voters that polling was on a Monday and as much as found the long weekend favourable for a getaway, they must stay and cast their vote. Several young voters are, however, keen to do so. In Lokhandwala, Andheri (West), Shashank Maheshwari said he had reached out to 2,000 youngsters in the age bracket of 18 to 30.

“I voted during the Lok Sabha elections, and this time too I will go and vote. We also urged first-time voters in Lokhandwala to stay in the city to vote,” he said.

In other parts of the city, voters’ resolve to exercise their franchise is strong. In the Charkop and Kandivali Assembly constituency, a number of societies have pledged that 100 per cent of their registered voters will go out and vote. Sunil Joshi, a voter from Chandivali, said, “In our society, we decided that all voters will exercise their voting right and duties. Local shops too have offered to provide discounts.”

While political parties said the election campaign this time was not bereft of pomp and fare, residents felt that many parties had cut down on expenses, reflecting a fund crunch.

“Earlier, there used to be so many rallies and sabhas but this time the candidates came only once, shook hands with people and left. This was for all parties. I felt they did not want to spend too much money,” said garment trader Rajesh Vejurani from Ulhasnagar.

Across the city, the BJP-Shiv Sena has campaigned saying they were set for another electoral victory. Of the 36 Assembly seats in Mumbai, the BJP is contesting 17 and the Shiv Sena 19.

Shiv Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray made his electoral debut from the Worli Assembly constituency. Ahead of the polls, the city saw an array of Union ministers and top BJP leaders campaigning for the alliance candidates, including Modi, Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal, J P Nadda, Smriti Irani and UP

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Fault lines, however, became clear between the alliance partners with Sena’s party workers voicing their displeasure over some seats being handed over to the BJP and refused to campaign for BJP candidates, especially in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.

The Congress-NCP alliance was plagued by infighting in the ranks of the Mumbai Congress. Many leading faces, including its former chiefs Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam, were missing in action, even as party leader Rahul Gandhi addressed two rallies in Chandivali and Dharavi. NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar too campaigned in the city’s eastern suburbs. The Congress is contesting 29 seats in the city, the NCP six and ally Samajwadi Party one.

For the Congress, its drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls was its fifth consecutive defeat in the city, where it was founded. The party has not won a single election here since the 2009 Assembly polls. It lost two back-to-back Lok Sabha polls, one Assembly poll and two civic elections.

During the 2014 Assembly election, the Wadala Assembly constituency recorded the highest voter turnout of 59.6 per cent. Sunil Haldankar, a close aide of BJP candidate Kalidas Kolambkar contesting from Wadala, said, “We have received a good response while campaigning. People are enthusiastic and we are confident of getting a good voting percentage. We hope that rain will not play spoilsport and people will come out in large numbers.”

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With 40.33 percent voting, Versova had the lowest turnout in the 2014 Assembly polls. Akhilesh Yadav from the Youth Congress in Versova, said they expected five to seven per cent drop in voter turnout if it rained.

Voting percentages in earlier elections (Source: Election Commission)

2014: 53%
2009: 46.1%
2004: 48.4%
1999: 44.9%

2014 results for 36 Assembly constituencies in Mumbai

BJP: 14
Shiv Sena: 15
Congress: 5
Others: 2