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Mumbai Voters: Where Were They?

The spirit of Mumbai seemed to be missing on election day:

About 44.15 per cent (provisional figures) voted in the city’s six constituencies. [Hindu]

The average turnout in the city’s six constituencies barely crossed 43%, far less than in 2004 (47.15%). An average turnout of 42.55% was recorded in the four constituencies of Thane. [DNA]

The battle of South Mumbai was most keenly watched as the terrorist had targeted this constituency just seven months back and which made likes Mira Sanyal, country head of ABN Amro Bank to jump in to electoral fray, registered only 43.33 per cent of polling marginal drop over 2004 when polling percentage was 44.22. [Business Standard]

Of the 1.59 crore registered voters in the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies — six in Mumbai plus Thane, Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Palghar — a mere 43.5% (or less than 70 lakh) cast their ballot on Thursday. It was lower than the 47.5% turnout in the 2004 general elections. [TOI]

Apathetic urban voters, as usual? Looks like Mumbaikars found plenty of “reasons” to stay away:

Several reasons were bandied about for the low turnout in Mumbai, but sheer disinterest was not one of them. Suburban collector Vishwas Patil blamed it on the long weekend, heat (maximum temperature was 34.2 degrees C, with 88% humidity in the island city and 74% in the suburbs) and confusion among voters due to delimitation. Across the city, there were also complaints galore of names having been deleted from electoral rolls or not appearing on the lists. [DNA]

Stars like Amir Khan flew in from abroad to cast their vote, while a combination of heat, IPL matches, the urge to take advantage of a long weekend, or plain apathy kept many voters away. [Hindu]

It seems lure of unwinding on beaches of Kokan and Goa or hills of Mahabaleshwar and Matheran proved to be far more attraction for Mumbaikars than attraction of exercising their constitutional right and elect the government which will take care of issues like constant terror attacks on city and economic slow down. [Business Standard]

Lets do away with the weather excuse straightaway. Mumbaikars are no strangers to 34 deg. Celsius temperature and 88% humidity. That’s par for the course in Mumbai. Not to forget that the temperature is much lower in the morning and late afternoon anyway.

Incomplete or inaccurate electoral rolls are a more serious problem, but their impact couldn’t possibly have been more than 1%, if even that much.

IPL matches start much later in the day. On the day Mumbai went to polls, the home team – Mumbai Indians – wasn’t even playing a game. The first of the two IPL games on the day started at 1600 hrs IST, close to the end of polling time.

That leaves us with, well, long weekend. Needless to say, it isn’t as if 55% or so of the voters in 10 constituencies – that’s more than 80 lakh people of voting age, leaving aside their kids – had left the city all at once for the beaches of Goa or the hills of Matheran. No such heavy tourist influx has been reported yet (and don’t hold your breath in expectation either). I think it is fair to conclude that most of them were sitting at home and didn’t bother to vote. Most of them were, in one word, apathetic.

I recall reading somewhere, after 26/11, that the “spirit of Mumbai” was nothing except their apathy towards their fellow human citizens and their own future, and that if they really had any spirit, they wouldn’t have come back to “business as usual” the very next day. I was skeptical of this view then. I think I agree now.

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  1. May 14, 2009 at 11:34 am

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