Thursday, October 15, 2009

Villages voted in right earnest

Surendra Gangan

Democracy matters more in rural Maharashtra. If Mumbai, its suburbs and Thane are excluded, the voting percentage in the rest of the state works out to a healthy 64.40. In fact, the gap between rural and urban turnout in these assembly polls is over 15%.
While the average turnout in the Mumbai city is 45.19%, only 49.94% Thane voters cast their votes. Pune and Nagpur fare a tad better with 54.81% and 56.43% respectively.
The reluctance of the urban voter to participate in the democratic process is being chiefly attributed to their apathy towards politics, a large presence of migrants who do not have franchise or interest, and the errors in the electoral rolls.
An official in the election branch admitted that the electoral rolls have not been revised after 1995. “Though numerous enrollment drives have been undertaken, correction in the rolls has always been overlooked. A lot of names of dead people still exist on the lists as neither the heirs have taken pains to delete them, nor does the machinery have the capacity to check their presence. Also, a large number of urban voters keep changing addresses, and are registered in two or more constituencies. This brings the percentage down,” he said.
Senior journalist Pratap Asbe said that these factors affect the overall turnout by nearly 5%. SM Gothoskar, an expert in political statistics, said: “The well-off families are indifferent to politics and do not come in direct contact with the representatives who can convince them to vote. The rapport between the political workers and the voters is better in the rural areas.”
Some Muslims areas in the state have registered a low turnout—including Bhiwandi, Miraj, Nagpur and Mira- Bhayander. Community leaders say this is due to inadequate representation of the community, failure of the government on minority issues and lack of options.

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