What does Mumbai vote for?

October 13, 2009

A few months ago, at the crack of dawn I found myself in one of Mumbai’s best neighbourhoods — Cuffe Parade.

It was election day and I was deputed to watch Mumbai vote in India’s general elections.

I didn’t get to see much.

Barely six months after the city saw its most audacious terrorist attack, Mumbaikars seemed to have forgotten it all, with hardly 41 per cent of the city’s electorate bothering to cast their vote.

Those that did come out to vote said security wasn’t much of an issue, saying the government couldn’t be blamed for it directly. I remember wondering that if an attack as big as 26/11 wasn’t an issue for Mumbaikars, then what was?

The local elections will be different, a friend who covers politics told me. Issues like water, electricity and roads are of more importance, he said.

As always, the Mumbaikar vs non-Mumbaikar issue has been played up by political leaders like Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray.

Both cousins have been fighting it out, hoping to take over the legacy of the one person who is missing from this election — Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who has not campaigned this time due to health reasons.

While there have been enough campaigns urging Mumbaikars to vote (including by Bollywood celebrities) and certainly enough reasons for them to so, indications so far show that Mumbaikars haven’t really gone out and voted.

I wonder about that. In a city like Mumbai, what is really important? And is it more important than the lure of a four-day weekend and getting away from it all?


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[…] Shilpa Jamkhandikar remembers disinterest among voters on another election day: what does Mumbai vote for? Barely six months after the city saw its most audacious terrorist attack, Mumbaikars seemed to have forgotten it all, with hardly 41 per cent of the city’s electorate bothering to cast their vote. […]

Posted by What does Mumbai vote for? at Blogbharti | Report as abusive

The whole stock market in India had an official trading holiday today, for the simple reason that Maharashtra, read Mumbai, was busy voting. But the first reports indicate that Mumbai was not that busy. Despite the day being a holiday for them, only a half of the voters in Mumbai chose to comeout and vote, against the national average of 66% (Arunachal Pradesh: 70%). Mumbai is the capital of both the Indian commerce and the Indian cinema. Having to stand in a serpentine queue under the scorching sun for hours is the most difficult part of voting. Even I hate it, not to speak of the rich and the beautiful. I’m prompted to ask the authorities a silly question: Why can’t online voting be made possible? In which case, I would compete to be the first to cast vote. There will be thousands of others like me. Nearly everything is possible online, why this, of all things, alone isn’t! Regards, Sunil M S from North Parur.

Posted by Sunil M S | Report as abusive

Great review here.I like this post and just wanted to say thanks for sharing such a nice post here.

Posted by kartenleser | Report as abusive

The Mumbai electorate is demonstrating a classic case of urban apathy.

Some think that people have either lost hope in the Mumbai politicians, or like the typical Indian in Mumbai, dont care.

In reality, people in Mumbai think that it is better to have a holiday with family, rather than vote

We Indians are cynical, but the bigger global trend here is that as cities develop, politics and politicians get marginalized and people are focused on other matters of importance.

Mumbai Indian
I am an Indian from Mumbai!

Posted by Ganesh | Report as abusive


I agree in general with the gist of your comments. I think we need to at least see the other point of view, of otherwise sensible people, without agreeing with it. Personally I feel once you refuse to vote you have given up any right to expect a change from the system.

The non voters, however, maintain that the Indian politician has brain washed citizens into believing that the only part they play in a democracy is to vote on demand. Thereafter they are lost within a maze. Moreover, time and time again it has been made clear to the electorate that the chattering middle class does not count for anything to the politician in a country which has such great economic disparities. As one person put it, he said all he wanted the politician of today was to define the ‘aam janta’. According to him, he wants to know whether he is right in considering himself to be a part of the ‘aam janta’? The system seems to say if you have a roof over your head, don’t go to bed hungry and have the ability to pay taxes, which the government can spend as it sees fit, you have no right to expect anything more from the system.

I accept the the truth they express, but I still do not see it as a justification not to vote.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive