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MBMC polls: rains keep turnout low

Published On : 20 Aug 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy : The Hindu   |  Pic On: Ronida Mumbai

Mumbai, (The Hindu): Polling day for elections to the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) was hit by heavy rain on Sunday, leading to a drop in voting. At the end of the day, only 46.93% of the twin township’s 5.93 lakh voters were recorded as having exercised their franchise.

Polling started at a slow pace at 7.30 a.m. as rains that began late on Saturday continued through the morning, with only 13% voting registered in the first five hours. At 3 p.m., just 20% had cast their votes. However, polling picked up pace in the last few hours as more voters realised that waiting for better weather was pointless and made their way to the 774 polling stations. “The final voting figure registered is 46.93%,” Raj Gharat, PRO, MBMC, said.

The Thane Police said polling passed off peacefully on Sunday. “We haven’t received information about untoward incidents during the polling,” Mahesh Patil, SP (Thane Rural), said.

More voting was seen in the rural and slum pockets, compared to those with residential complexes. Sources said the highest turnout was recorded in the fishing hamlet of Uttan at 63%, while it was lowest in the Mira-Bhyander Road area at around 36%.

Though the day passed off without incident, residents complained of deletion, overlapping or shifting of names in the voter list, denying them their chance to vote. “My name appeared in two polling stations. I have brought the matter to the notice of the election officials,” said Elizabeth Alfred, a voter from Ward No 15. Civic officials claimed they were unaware of discrepancies in the voter list. “Nothing has come to us,” Mr. Gharat said.

The elections, considered a litmus test for the popularity of the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in the post-GST phase, was taken seriously by the BJP. The party aimed for complete control of the local body by banking heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and non-Marathi votes. However, observers feel the low turnout may throw up interesting results, as it has been locked in a turf war with the Shiv Sena, its partner in the State government.

The Sena, on its part, has left no stones unturned in attacking the BJP. It went in for a change in profile by giving tickets to 38 non-Marathi candidates, including Christians, Muslims, north and south Indians. The Congress, feel poll observers, might do well in minority pockets while the possibility of the NCP and MNS opening their account remain to be seen. “We’ll have to see which pockets and communities voted,” a political source said.

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