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BMC elections 2017: Not many swayed by AIMIM; SP, Sena remain preferred choices

Junaid Waizo (40), a social worker and resident of ward 138, stated that while most of the seats would see a close fight, the AIMIM and the BJP did not stand much of a chance.

Written by Arita Sarkar , Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
February 22, 2017 3:54:25 am
mumbai-759 Some voters in Govandi said they divided votes for the AIMIM and the SP within their families. Nirmal Harindran

HEAVY TURNOUT was seen at most polling booths in the M-East ward in Mankhurd and Govandi areas of the city. Among the major political parties in the fray, residents here seemed divided between the Samajwadi Party and the Shiv Sena. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which fielded 59 candidates in the area, did not seem popular among many.

“For many, Samajwadi Party is an obvious choice since the sitting MLA Abu Azmi is from the party, and the MLA and the corporators can coordinate better to resolve our issues if they are from the same party,” said Ali Hasan, 60-year old resident of Rafiqnagar in Govandi. Hasan said that the Shiv Sena, too, was among the preferred choices, as its candidates, including Sandhya Ambekar from ward 137 and Suresh Patil of ward 139, had worked in the area and shown “promise”. Qureshi Mohammed Rafiq (50) agreed, saying: “Our choice is not determined by the candidate’s religion. The region had a water problem for many years, which Azmi resolved. At the same time, the Shiv Sena candidate (Suresh Patil) had been a corporator earlier and has been interacting with the voters to hear out our issues.”

While some first-time voters spoke of AIMIM as the preferred choice, the older voters said they would prefer to go with their ‘traditional’ choices. “We have been voting for the Congress for many years and we have never heard of the AIMIM candidates. They have to carry out some work in the area before we can be convinced about the AIMIM,” said resident Khadima Khatoon.

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Some women voters in Govandi came up with a novel solution to get around the difficult choice between the AIMIM and the SP — they divided votes for the two parties within their families. “We could not decide whom to vote for and we didn’t want to upset anyone. So votes of all family members have been divided between the two parties,” said Parveen Qureshi.

In Mankhurd, the choice was between the Sena and the SP. “We will decide once we go to the polling booth. All parties have campaigned but we would rather go with the party we know of,” said 46-year old Amarnath Chaudhary. “Yeh log toh baarish ke mendhak hai (They are like frogs during the rains). We only see them before the elections. There are some basic facilities that we keep seeking, such as clean sewers, water and roads. But despite promises, if no one can deliver on those, we do not know on what basis to choose whom to vote for.”

Junaid Waizo (40), a social worker and resident of ward 138, stated that while most of the seats would see a close fight, the AIMIM and the BJP did not stand much of a chance.

The BJP has fielded two candidates in the area, including sitting corporator Dinesh Panchal, who left the Shiv Sena for it. “Even though the votes for SP candidates would be divided among the Congress and the AIMIM, there are good chances that they will win a higher number of seats than other parties. Candidates from other parties are not strong enough,” he said.

Many voters who turned up to vote early faced difficulties finding the correct polling booth, since the serial numbers on their chits did not match those on the list. One such voter, Hajrabi Ibrahim Shakir, said her serial number was not mentioned in the voter list at the first booth and she was redirected to another booth after a long wait. “I came early since I had to go to my sister’s funeral. But after waiting in line for hours, they told me I had to go stand in another line. I don’t even feel like voting now,” she said.

Civic officials as well as party representatives said the difference in the serial numbers was because of delimitation. “We have been giving chits to people with the serial numbers on our lists. But after many people complained, we started checking their serial numbers on the True Voter application and then put the new number,” said Vaishali Yevale, a Shiv Sena party worker.

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