Turnout to reflect mood

Mumbai: Will Mumbai witness a higher voter turnout as it goes for the 13th Assembly elections in the state? Conventional wisdom has it that a high turnout is a manifestation of a strong anti-incumbency sentiment. The city had witnessed 55% voting in the parliamentary elections in April when it gave the BJP-Shiv Sena combine a landslide victory. As against this, the city turnout in the last assembly polls — in 2009 – was a pathetic 46.1%. It was marginally better at 48.4% in 2004.

But data suggests this was not always the case. From 1962 to 1978, the voter turnout in Mumbai never dipped below 60%, reaching a high of 67.5% in 1967. Until 1972, Mumbai always logged a higher turnout than the state’s average.

However, since 1999 Mumbai has lagged behind Maharashtra, its turnout never touching even 50%. This has a lot to do with voter apathy and cynicism, which largely stems from the failure of the political class to focus on day-to-day issues.

The redeeming feature, some political observers point out, is that in the last 54 years, the voting percentage in the assembly polls has been higher than that in the parliamentary elections: this has been the case whenever both the elections were held the same year.

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