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Feb 16, 2012 at 10:04pm IST

Mumbai fails ballot test with just 46 pc turnout

Mumbai: Mumbai on Thursday failed the ballot box test with only 46 per cent of Mumbaikars turning out to elect the people to run the maximum city. Mumbai's movers and shakers refused to budge on election day.

At last count, a dismal 28 per cent of people from SoBo, as south Mumbai is fashionably called, turned out to vote.

It's been billed as the mini assembly election in Maharashtra. Elections were held across 10 municipal corporations, including the biggest prize of them all, Mumbai. Mumbai saw a turnout of 46 per cent voters.

Milind Deora, Congress MP, said, "Mumbai's affluent do not vote as much, in fact not at all. And that's something that needs to change."

Despite voting day being notified as a public holiday, overall just over 46 per cent of Mumbai's voters cast their franchise for the country's richest municipal corporation. Mumbai is living up to its notorious reputation of not coming out to vote. Activity school in Pedder Road, one of the main voting centres here in south Mumbai, bears a deserted look.

Heena Gokhale, a voter, says, "The well-heeled feel like they they don't need a government. We have private institutions, etc. So, we really only need them for good roads."

Mumbai's crumbling infrastructure may dominate cocktail conversation, but few were willing to walk the talk. Even as a record number of independent candidates banked on Mumbaikars to vote for change.

Voter Santosh Awatramani says, "This election is not about creating governments, it's about getting good people to serve and they need not be political."

But there were atleast a few familiar faces among Mumbai's power eilte who did go to the ballot box.

Deepak Parekh, HDFC Chairman, says, "Quality of life in the city needs a change desperately." Actor Anupam Kher says, "I found it important to come vote and to show the city my finger." Film director Zoya Akhtar, says "You can't complain if you don't vote."

While political observers are uncertain just who a low voter turnout will benefit, it is very likely the city that would end up the loser.

The Thackeray's led by the octogenarian Shiv Sena supremeo cast their votes at the Mumbai suburb of Bandra. It's a battle for survival for the Shiv Sena that has seen a continuing decline in its electoral fortunes over the last decade. Bal Thackarey's estranged nephew Raj Thackrey is expected to emerge as a kingmaker.

Pune saw an over 42 per cent turnout. Suresh Kalmadi, out on bail, seen voting here. He may not have campaigned for the Congress but his loyalists cornered most of the tickets. The Congress and NCP failed to form an alliance here. Kalmadi and corruption was the focus of the NCP's campaign. Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar is hoping to be crowed the new king of Pune.

Nagpur saw a 42 per cent voter turnout. The BJP will be looking to retain control of the Nagpur Municipal corporation but the polls are a bigger test for BJP president Nitin Gadkari who has expressed his desire to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Nagpur. Nagpur is also the headquarters of the RSS. The polls will determine Gadkari's political influence in his home city.

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