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Poll panel's 'apathy' blamed for Mumbai's poor voter turnout

Friday February 17, 2012 07:32:45 PM, IANS

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Mumbai: Criticism has been raining on Mumbaikars for the poor voter turnout in the civic polls, but Mumbaikars say the Election Commission's "apathetic behaviour" is equally at fault.

"I tried registering for the voter ID in advance. But my name failed to come up in the voter's list. When I don't get to vote, I really don't think the election propaganda makes any sense if the election commission cannot ensure proper registrations," said Rajeshwari K., a 21-year-old graphic designer.

Agreed 22-year-old college student Daniel Sequeira. "I submitted all my documents on time and was excited about being able to vote. But alas! Something went wrong. If I am not getting registered, I don't want to hear any of the nonsense that's blurted out on loudspeakers. For someone who does not get to vote, it's just plain noise pollution," he said.

While some complained about their names not being found in the voters' list, others had different reasons for the low turnout.

"Many people had to go to work. We work for a living and do not vote for a living. I know several others who could not vote because of work constraints," said Bittu Yadav, a courier boy.

Then there were those who turned up at the voting booth only to discover that either their names were wrongly spelt or were entirely missing.

"I had everything in place, my voter's card, my photo ID, and I was ready and excited to vote for the first time," said Devendranath Sharma, 18.

"But the 'nath' in my name was missing and hence I was not allowed to vote," said a sad Sharma.

In the list of those who could not vote were also people who are often termed as "outsiders".

"I am not originally from Mumbai. But I have worked here for a couple of years and I wanted to vote. I even made inquires about the registration process and was ready to submit the right documents. But I never even got close to know the process," said Vishal Rohilla, 27, an IT consultant.

And then there were some, who just did not care.

"What difference does it make if a BJP comes into power or some Congress gains lead," asked Chirag Shah, 25, an administration professional.

"They are all going to be corrupt and eat into our money," he added.

Additional Chief Secretary of the State Election Commission Chand Goel, however, expressed concern over the apathy of youth.

"I found that the youth was barely there. We made a lot of appeals and lot of awareness programmes, but they didn't seem to respond," he said.

Political parties also had their own theories.

Bharatiya Janata Party's Vinod Tawde said that the decision to keep the polling on a working day resulted in a low turnout as not many private companies gave their employees holidays.

"A lot of people from upper class feel that they do not have a co-relation with any polls," alleged MNS general secretary Shirish Parker.









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