Mumbai: BMC’s poll dept goes ‘extra mile’ to improve voter turnout

Mumbai: In a bid to increase the voter turnout during the February 21 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, the election department of the civic body has undertaken several measures, including painting train rakes and buses with messages urging people to exercise their franchise.

There are 91.80 lakh voters in Mumbai, who are eligible to vote in the upcoming civic polls. During the 2012 BMC elections, only 42 per cent voters had cast their votes.

Talking about the steps that the civic body’s election department has undertaken, a senior BMC official involved in the process said, “This time, we are going extra mile. Apart from following the conventional methods to educate and awaken the voters of the metropolis, we have gone extra mile to persuade people to vote at any cost, who have got an unwanted tag of being ‘lethargic’ voters.”

“We have arranged to paint two local trains (rakes) on the Main line of Central Railway, two on Western Railway route and one on Harbour line, with messages urging people to vote. Apart from that, two per cent of the total fleet of BEST buses and bus stops will also sport similar messages that will urge people to cast their vote,” the official said.

LEDs and hoardings placed at important junctions of the city would also flash appeals to vote, he said adding, “Even the exterior parts of airports, octroi booths, ATM kiosks, etc would be lit up with messages urging people to come forward and vote,” he said adding that housing societies, hotel owners and colleges have also been contacted to motivate the voters.

“We have contacted office-bearers of hotel owners association, who have primarily agreed to offer discount on food on the election day to those, who show their ink-marked fingers. Not only this, even Uber taxi drivers are planning to offer discounts that day to passengers who cast their vote,” the official added.

BMC’s election department has also tied up with over 115 colleges, whose students would perform skits and form human chain at places with high footfall in the city. This will be done after due consultations with Mumbai University.

Apathy among middle class and upper-middle class voters and names missing from electoral rolls are said to be the two prime reasons why the megacity has always lagged in voter turnout.

“People here are least interested in politics compared to any other region of India and this is why Mumbai had dismal voting percentage of 42 per cent in last municipal election held in 2012. Hence, in order to boost this year’s voter turnout, the commission has taken excessive measure to awaken the voters,” the official said.

Meanwhile, according to a statement issued by BMC administration, total 116 nominations were filed till Wednesday evening, comprising 55 nominations from eastern suburbs, 72 from western suburbs and 39 from the island city.

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