National News Report Politics

Why Low Voter Turnout In Mumbai?

Despite an active campaign for 13 highly contested seats in the fifth and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra, voter turnout in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) was notably low, plagued by complaints of missing names, inadequate facilities, and slow voting procedures. Both the Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress have raised concerns over the issues.

Voters across Mumbai’s financial capital reported waiting in long lines for over an hour due to slow voting. Many ultimately left without casting their vote due to the lengthy wait and scorching temperatures.
As of 6 p.m., Maharashtra recorded an average polling of 49.01%, the lowest among all states voting on Monday and lower than the 55.38% turnout in 2019. According to provisional data from the Election Commission (EC), turnout varied across the 13 constituencies, with Dindori in Nashik district recording the highest at 57.06% and Kalyan in Thane district recording the lowest at 41.70%.

In other constituencies, Palghar recorded 54.32%, Nashik 51.16%, Bhiwandi 48.89%, Dhule 48.81%, Mumbai North 46.91%, Mumbai North Central 47.32%, Mumbai North East 48.67%, Mumbai North West 49.79%, Mumbai South 44.22%, Mumbai South Central 48.26%, and Thane 45.38%. Maharashtra, which voted in five phases, sent 48 MPs to the Lower House, the second-largest contingent after Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats.

Congress leader Muzaffar Hussain has alleged that numerous voters from Mira Road-Bhayandar and Thane found their names missing from the electoral rolls. Hussain says, and I quote, “Without proper verification, the Election Commission (EC) has deliberately deleted the names of many voters who participated in the 2019 and previous elections. These residents have lived in Mira Road and Bhayandar for years and have not relocated.

The EC appears to have targeted a specific community, likely fearing their votes would not favour the ruling government, “Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya Thackeray also criticized the EC for the slow pace of voting in Mumbai, alleging deliberate delays in areas where their party traditionally garners significant support. Uddhav Thackeray urged voters to remain at polling stations until they cast their votes, even if it took all night, and to report the names of any EC staff responsible for delays, promising action against them. He highlighted complaints about the lack of facilities at polling stations.

He further said, “There is a lot of enthusiasm among voters, but polling officials are delaying the process in many centres at the government’s behest. I request voters to stay at polling centres until they cast their votes, even if it takes until morning. There is no drinking water facility at the stations.”

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Aaditya Thackeray took to X (formerly Twitter) to express concerns about the conditions at polling booths. “Many complaints from voters about the facilities outside the booths @ECISVEEP. At least having voter lines in the shade or with fans could help. They don’t want much, just basics to stay cool. Please look into it.”

In response to the complaints, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis urged the EC to address the issues related to the slow voting process in Mumbai. “I have requested the EC to look into the complaints about the slow pace of voting in Mumbai. There have been several complaints about the overall polling pace being very slow,” Fadnavis stated. He also asked EC officials to discuss the matter with the Collectors of Mumbai City and Mumbai Suburban District to ensure voters do not face issues due to the slow process.

Confusion over mobile phone usage also persisted throughout the day, with official orders disallowing handsets within 100 metres of the polling booth. With most voters carrying one, the presiding officers directed voters to switch off their gadgets before entering the polling station.
A 56-year-old election officer died after suffering a cardiac attack while performing duties at a booth in the Mumbai South constituency.

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