Mumbai: Mumbai has often been chastised for its low voter participation, but one area of the city has borne the brunt of the criticism: the affluent Mumbai South seat.
However, as the city has developed and prosperity has spread, another portion of Mumbai has become notorious for voter indifference – Bandra and its surrounding suburbs, which lie within the Mumbai North Central parliamentary district.
The Assembly segments of Bandra West, Bandra East, Kalina, Kurla, Chandivali, and Vile Parle make up the constituency. Mumbai voted in the fourth round of the Lok Sabha elections on Monday.
The turnout in Mumbai North Central was 53.64 percent, second only to Mumbai South’s 51.45 percent.
According to official figures, the average voter participation in Mumbai’s six seats was 55.28 percent.
Mumbai North Central as lethargic as Mumbai South
Chandivali had the lowest vote percentage in Monday’s election, at 50.79 percent. Turnout was 51.29 percent in Kurla, 52.45 percent in Bandra West, and 52.74 percent in Bandra East, respectively. The Vile Parle Assembly segment, which achieved a solid 61.19 percent attendance, improved the total average of Mumbai North Central.
The most affluent parts of Mumbai South, like as Colaba and Malabar Hill, have historically had low voter participation. On Monday, whereas Colaba had a turnout of 45.16 percent, Malabar Hill had a turnout of 56.08 percent, which was higher than the city’s average.
Previously, Mumbai North Central, the home seat of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s family, had voting percentages comparable to or worse than Mumbai South.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the voter turnout in Mumbai North Central was 39.5 percent, compared to 40.3 percent in Mumbai South and 41.38 percent overall.
In the 2014 elections, when the city’s participation increased due to a noticeable ‘Modi wave,’ Mumbai North Central had the lowest turnout among the city’s six seats. While Mumbai’s total vote percentage was 51.6 percent, the turnout in Mumbai North Central was 48.67 percent, compared to 52.49 percent in Mumbai South.
‘Elites think they are closer to power’
Over the last two decades, Mumbai’s commercial focus points have relocated from Nariman Point and Fort in South Mumbai to districts such as Lower Parel, Powai, and, more importantly, the Bandra Kurla Complex business zone, stimulating commercial and residential expansion in surrounding neighborhoods.
While Bandra West has traditionally been one of Mumbai’s most expensive real estate locations outside of the island metropolis, prices in the neighborhood, as well as neighboring Bandra East, Kalina, and Khar, have risen in the previous 10-15 years.
“These areas have grown more affluent over the years, and citizen apathy has only increased,” said Anandini Thakoor, trustee and secretary of the H West municipal ward federation, which encompasses the Bandra, Khar, and Santacruz suburbs.
“People are content living in their own houses now,” Thakoor, an octogenarian who has lived and worked in the neighborhood for over 50 years, remarked. They whine, yet expect someone else to solve their concerns.”
According to Thakoor, these areas were once a hotspot of local activity, but in recent years, even the Advance Locality Managements (ALMs), which are groups of local citizens that collaborate with the municipal body to resolve problems, have grown less active.
“Previously, we would call meetings to discuss local issues, and people would show up.” We used to hold frequent gatherings with at least 40-50 locals. Now, if I want that many people, I have to individually phone at least 300 individuals,” she said, adding that she is battling for residents’ support in a Bombay High Court case requesting a subterranean Metro instead of an elevated one.
“Bandra and its surrounding areas have changed significantly in terms of affluence, and Mumbai’s elite voters generally do not take an interest in elections because they believe issues are dominated by the economically-weaker classes.” “They believe that whether they vote or not, the outcome will not be what they want,” said Sulakshana Mahajan, an urban planner.
“The elite also believe they are closer to power and can get their work done by calling someone they know.” They do not want to vote for candidates with whom they do not necessarily identify.”