Moderate turn-out in Maharashtra civic polls
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Last Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012, 00:32
Mumbai: Around 54 percent of about 2.02 crore electorate Thursday exercised their franchise for polls in 10 municipal corporations of Maharashtra, including the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

In Mumbai, only 46 percent of the 1.02 crore voters cast ballots, despite the state government declaring a public holiday today.

State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan expressed concern about the low turn-out.

In the last three civic polls, over half the electorate in Mumbai did not exercise their franchise, with the voting percentage ranging between 42 and 46 percent. In 2007 polls, only 46 percent had voted.

The voting percentages in other nine cities today were as follows: Thane (52 percent), Ulhasnagar (43 percent), Nashik (58 percent), Pune (53 percent), Pimpri-Chinchwad (56 percent), Solapur (58 percent), Akola (57 percent), Nagpur (55 percent) and Amravati (58 percent).

Billed as a mini-assembly election, the polls will test the political acumen and charisma of not only Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, but also Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and his son Uddhav Thackeray.

While the Sena is desperately trying to extend its 16-year rule in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for another five years in alliance with BJP and Ramdas Athavale's RPI, the Congress has stitched up an alliance with NCP for the first time for the civic body polls.

The counting will start tomorrow morning, and results would be out by the afternoon.

BMC, the country's richest civic body with a budget of over Rs 20,000 crore, more than that of many states, has 227 seats.

While Sena chief Bal Thackeray, son Uddhav and grandson Aditya voted in Bandra, MNS chief Raj Thackeray cast his vote in central Dadar area of Mumbai.

In Nagpur, BJP president Nitin Gadkari rode a scooter to the polling booth to cast his vote. In Pune, sacked Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi cast his vote along with wife Meera.

Across the ten cities, 9,534 candidates are in the fray for 1,244 seats. In Mumbai, 2,232 candidates are in the fray.

While Sena-BJP alliance controls BMC, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik and Nagpur, Congress-NCP combine is in power in Pune and Solapur. Amravati civic body is held by the Congress and Pimpri-Chinchwad by NCP.

The 73-member Akola municipal corporation was under Congress-NCP rule, but was dissolved by the state government last year over financial irregularities.

Counting of votes in 27 zilla parishads, where polling was held on February 7, will also take place tomorrow.

Congress MP from Mumbai North-Central constituency, Priya Dutt, expressed strong displeasure over the apathy of voters.

"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. They are not contributing to the society. You are getting what you deserve," she said.

HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh also disapproved of the people's lukewarm response. "Voting is a fundamental right and people must exercise their franchise," he said.

Many Bollywood personalities, including Shahrukh Khan, cast their vote.

Besides Shahrukh, scriptwriter Salim Khan and his son Arbaaz Khan, film-makers Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, Madhur Bhandarkar cast their votes.

Among other celebrities who exercised their franchise were Anupam Kher, Pritish Nandy, Kailash Kher, Dia Mirza, Sonali Bendre, Pooja Bedi, Shakti Kapoor, Boman Irani, Rajat Kapoor, Celina Jaitley, Divya Dutta and Tisca Chopra.

Lyricist Gulzar, who duly arrived at the polling station to cast the vote, was disappointed to find out that his name was missing from the voters' list.

BJP candidate from ward 41 in Mumbai, Vinod Shelar, lodged a complaint against Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam, who, he alleged, illegally entered a polling booth.

A 55-year-old identified as Lalmani Vishwakarma collapsed and died while in a queue at the polling booth at Yograj Vidyalaya in Saki Naka, in ward number 154.

BMC commissioner Subodh Kumar said that S-ward recorded the highest polling at 55.05 percent, while A-ward registered the lowest polling at 34.15 percent.

Mumbai's polling record this time was slightly better than 2007, he added.


First Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 08:54

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