February 18, 2012

Why Mumbaikars don’t care to Vote

The recent civic poll in Mumbai disappointed one and all for its low turnout. It was a much-hyped election, but it all fizzled out at the end, as yet again with 45% of the electorates casting their vote for crucial civic polls.

It was believed that the Shiv Sena-BJP combine returned to power in the BMC because of this low voter turnout. Although the people in Mumbai were not happy with the 17-year-old rule of Shiv Sena-BJP, the Congress-NCP could not convince the voters to turn up in large numbers and vote for them.

It was the election where the local issue of daily life, like the issue of ration card, drinking water, sanitation, garbage, the potholed roads etc is mainly focused.

Lakhs of SMSes have been circulated; awareness campaigns are being held by civic activists in order to turn up and caste vote. So much so, the government declared February16 as a government holiday — to make it convenient for the workforce to vote.

Sadly, nothing seems to move the Mumbaikars particularly the middle class and the elite to step out and vote. Instead, they took it as a day off and stayed at home.

On the contrary, the poverty driven states like Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, where the voters need to walk a mile in a chill winter to cast their vote, the voters’ turout are impressive on their ongoing election.

In the recent past, Mumbaikars have shown their enthusiasm in the candle light march protesting the 26/11 terror attack and supporting Anna Hazare’s call against corruption. But, the poor turnout in civic poll is a serious worrisome issue.

Priya Dutt, Congress MP for the Mumbai North-Central constituency said: "It is very sad that a lot of people have not come out to vote. If you don't vote, you have no right to complain. [Those who don't vote] are not contributing to the society. You are getting what you deserve; you are harming the society and country."

HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh also disapproved of the people's lukewarm response to the civic elections. "Educated people don't come out and vote. The quality of life is going down in the city and some desperate measures are needed," he said.

However, many voters, including prominent citizens like Gulzar, finding their names missing from the voting lists. Residents in Andheri (W) found their names enlisted in the wrong voting constituency and were unable to cast their ballot.

Mayank Gandhi, a renowned “Anna team member” pointed out that the low turnout is due to political cynicism and voter apathy. He said the right to reject option in the ballet paper will definitely attract the voters in large number.

It can’t be exaggerate to say that the citizens need to understand their fundamental duty in the democracy. It can’t be solved the socio-political problems just by criticizing the political system nor by asking the accountability of the government only.

It is to be mentioned that 21,000 core rupees of tax payers’ money are spent in Mumbai civic election. So every citizen should come forward and vote for a better society and for better governance.

On the whole, the technical mistakes of the concerned authority in the electoral process are to be minimized. The mindset of the educated middle and elite class should be changed. Until and unless the educated masses exercise their franchise, it will turn out to be a “Slum’s verdict”.

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