Lack of opposition causes voters to curb their enthusiasm; poor turnout in places

Mumbai: Voter turnout for the assembly poll in Mumbai was significantly lower than for the Lok Sabha elections held in May. In the morning, queues outside polling booths were not very long, with most voters declaring they were going to vote for the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Voters who abstained said the lack of a solid opposition had curbed their enthusiasm.

Smita Dalvi, a resident in the Malad (East) constituency said the current situation of there being no opposition worth the name is scary, as it means there is nobody to question the authority in the legislature.

“The majority of those who have come out to vote, are supporters of the BJP-Sena and they are out only to show support to the party,” stated Dalvi, who said she did not vote for the saffron alliance.

In complete contrast, Prasad Sardesai, another resident of the constituency informed he had voted because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision. He stated he was not much affected by local problems when Modi and Shah were at the Centre and he claims the duo are the torch-bearers of development. But most Mumbaikars chose to not vote because the state’s polity did not offer many alternatives.

“We vote so that we can choose a candidate who will solve our problems, but there is no one to choose from, we only have the sitting MLAs,” said Avinash Dadekar, a retired academician from Thakur Village, Kandivli (East).

Therefore, Dadekar refrained voting in the assembly poll, although he did vote in the Lok Sabha elections in May. He complained that the the problem of waste management and clogged drains had increased in the last last few years. His neighbours wrote to the sitting BJP sitting MLA, Atul Bhatkhalkar, but his office never responded.

“During the Lok Sabha elections, my entire family stood for an hour in the queue to vote because we relied on our Prime Minister’s vision, but now, how can we vote for a candidate who does not respond to the woes of his constituents?” asked Dadekar. Not just the Dadekars, his neighbours and other residents of his society too boycotted the election this time.

The BJP-Sena had mounted a grand campaign for the assembly poll. National leaders flew into Maharashtra, delivering fiery speeches on national issues while campaigning for local candidates in practically every nook and corner of the state.

“The national leaders came and spoke on Article 370, Ram Mandir and triple talaq. The issue here is that so many mills and industries have been shut down in the last few years. How will they solve our problems when they are not even recognising the issues?” asked voter Sunil Rawat, who just exercised his right as a tokenism, in Charkop.

“There is not a single eligible candidate, the opposition leaders appear so weak that they have lost their significance,” said Rawat, claiming he had pushed the NOTA button.

The announcement to confer Bharat Ratnas on freedom fighter Savarkar and social reformers Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule appeared to be a calculated strategy of the BJP to woo the Marathi manoos. Also, Sharad Pawar’s ‘Interrogate me’ tactic and his nephew Ajit Pawar’s announcement of retirement from from politics was clearly perceived as a poll gimmick by the voters of Mumbai.

“It is good the CM is conferring awards on legends, but the authorities are not taking a call on pothole problems or waterlogging. People voted for the BJP in 2014 seeking change, but everything seems to have changed for the worse,” stated Ravikumar Patil, an entrepreneur who skipped voting.

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