Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Controversy Over 'Delay In Voting' In Mumbai's North Central Constituency

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Controversy Over 'Delay In Voting' In Mumbai's North Central Constituency

The Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer's office addressed concerns about slow voting, stating, “Any voter who is in the queue at 6 PM is entitled to vote.”

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Tuesday, May 21, 2024, 12:53 AM IST
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Senior citizens cast vote at John Baptista Road, Bandra west |

Mumbai: Mumbai: In the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 held on Monday, May 20, six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai went to the polls. Mumbai’s North Central Lok Sabha Constituency recorded a significant voter turnout by 6 PM. Despite the sweltering afternoon heat discouraging many from voting earlier, a substantial number of voters stepped out in the late evening, leading to long queues that extended beyond the official voting hours.

The Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer's office addressed concerns about slow voting, stating, “Any voter who is in the queue at 6 PM is entitled to vote.” The polling station continued to function until all voters in line at 6 PM had cast their ballots.

Senior citizens cast vote in Kalanagar’s Navjeevan Vidyamandir polling booth

Senior citizens cast vote in Kalanagar’s Navjeevan Vidyamandir polling booth |

Voter activity was particularly high in the morning hours, up until 11 AM. However, as temperatures soared in the afternoon, many voters opted to wait until the cooler evening hours to cast their votes, resulting in a late surge at the polling stations

The Mumbai North Central Lok Sabha constituency, known for its celebrity residents and affluent areas like Bandra and Vile Parle, is witnessing a close contest between renowned lawyer Ujjwal Nikam of the BJP and Mumbai Congress president Varsha Gaikwad. Interestingly, neither candidate was the first choice of their respective parties.

Women activists of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan

Women activists of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan |

The BJP initially denied the ticket to sitting MP Poonam Mahajan, preferring to field Mumbai city president Ashish Shelar. However, Shelar declined, stating he was not ready for national politics, leading to the last-minute selection of Nikam.

For the Congress, former Maharashtra minister Naseem Khan was a strong contender, particularly due to the constituency's significant Muslim population of around 4 lakh voters. Despite Khan's enthusiasm and the demographic advantage, the Congress ultimately selected Varsha Gaikwad as their candidate at the suggestion of alliance partner Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT). The Shiv Sena argued that Muslim votes alone would not suffice for a victory, thus positioning Gaikwad as the joint candidate.

85 years, Sadashiv Sitaram Walanju

85 years, Sadashiv Sitaram Walanju |

Varsha Gaikwad was not initially expecting to contest from Mumbai North Central; her preferred choice was Mumbai South Central, her late father Eknath Gaikwad’s constituency. However, Uddhav Thackeray successfully advocated for his party’s candidate, Anil Desai, to run in that seat.

Ujjwal Nikam, a distinguished lawyer known for handling high-profile cases such as the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack and the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, has been selected by the BJP with hopes that his reputation, coupled with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's influence, will secure victory. Nikam's campaign focuses on national issues and Modi’s leadership, while Varsha Gaikwad, a Dharavi MLA from the Congress, emphasizes local concerns.

Padma, 72 year old woman from Kadeshwari Road

Padma, 72 year old woman from Kadeshwari Road |

A voter from Mahim koliwada near Mahim Causeway said,” We prefer to vote for NOTA because the political developments in Maharashtra over the past five years have made us distrust every candidate. We vote for one party, only to see them align with others or witness internal splits. We are left bewildered by these events. Therefore, this year, we believe NOTA is our best option.

Approximately 15-20 voters were unable to cast their ballots due to technical issues. These voters reported that although their names appeared on the initial list, they were omitted from the final list at the polling stations.

Shabana Ansari, young voter from Nargis Dutt Nagar

Shabana Ansari, young voter from Nargis Dutt Nagar |

Shaikh Shaheen Abdulrasheed, a 57-year-old resident of Bandra's Chapel Road, expressed his frustration, saying, “I came in the afternoon to vote and was informed that my name was not on the list. Despite having an updated voter ID and other identity proofs, I was denied entry. This was a disappointing experience for me and many others at Bandra’s MET Polling booth. Do we not have the right to vote? Are we not citizens of India? The system should have our records. This seems suspicious. How come our names magically disappeared from list?”

Shabbir Patel, a 45-year-old resident of Bandra Reclamation, stated, “We trust Varsha Gaikwad because the former MP failed to deliver on development for our constituency. We are overlooked in every regard; as slum dwellers, we constantly struggle for basic necessities. Even to secure drinking water, our voices are only heard after we protest. While Bandra is transforming, the slums remain unchanged. Do we not deserve a better quality of life? When can we expect progress?“

Shaikh Shaheen Abdulrasheed

Shaikh Shaheen Abdulrasheed |

“We are dissatisfied with the performance of the former MP. While Bandra is developing with new projects and abundant facilities for the affluent, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us poor residents to live here. When it comes to housing development, slums are consistently neglected. All we see is minimal progress. The youth on Ali Yavar Jung Marg are falling prey to drugs, and while narcotics officers occasionally take action, they often settle matters with bribes. Why are these issues not taken seriously? We want our MPs to implement better policies and laws.”

A social activist from the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan stated, "The North Central constituency is in dire need of change. From children and women to senior citizens, we require improved healthcare and infrastructure schemes. We have high hopes that the Congress candidate will advocate for us in Parliament. Having grown up in the Dharavi slums, she intimately understands our struggles and has a proven track record of working for women's welfare. We do not want our children to endure the hardships we faced. The facilities provided by the Congress in previous years were unparalleled, which is why we support their candidate."

Mahim Koliwada - Mahim Causeway

Mahim Koliwada - Mahim Causeway |

Anita deshpande, a resident of bandra west reclamation said, “We voted for the former MP but were left disappointed. No one addressed the persistent traffic issues in this constituency; roads remain blocked by ongoing projects that focus more on beautification than solving real problems. Despite this, we considered giving the BJP another chance. We believe that once elected, Ujjwal Nikam will advocate effectively for us. His expertise in crafting policies and laws is precisely what we need in a lawmaker.”

Padma, a 72-year-old woman from Kadeshwari Road expressed her discontent, stating, "No candidate has worked for us; only the wealthy seem to reap the benefits. The common man never benefits from whomever gets elected. Our slum land has been earmarked for redevelopment under the SRA project. Despite providing ample evidence and residing here for over 50 years, we are deemed ineligible. However, on voting day, these same proofs are considered valid. How convenient for them."

Mr Mukhi

Mr Mukhi |

Resident of Mount mary road Mr Mukhi, 54 years old said, “This year, our voting criteria extended beyond mere policymaking; it was driven by a strong anti-incumbency sentiment. We need change not only at the local level but also nationally. We seek a shift away from fascist and communal ideologies. Additionally, there should be stringent laws preventing MPs from switching parties after being elected. Such actions betray the voters' trust and should result in the loss of their positions. Lawmakers must enact and enforce these regulations.”

Many public figures from the Mumbai North Central constituency casted their votes including Uddhav Thackeray, Aaditya Thackeray, Rashmi Thackeray, Anil Parab, Varsha Gaikwad, Ujjwal Nikam, Sachin Tendulkar, Ashish Shelar, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan.

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