Celebrities aplenty but low turnout in Mumbai, Thane

Mumbai, April 30: Film stars, industrialists and other celebrities may have turned up but the 10 parliamentary constituencies in Mumbai and Thane notched only 5.5 percent voting in the first three hours of polling for the final phase of Maharashtra’s general elections Thursday.

However, the turnout is expected to increase later in the day as people finish their morning chores before stepping out to vote, a polling official said.

More than 13 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose amongst 196 candidates, including 17 women, in the fray for the third, final and smallest phase of polling in the state.

The constituencies where polling is in progress are Mumbai North, Mumbai North-East, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-Central, Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai South; Thane, Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Palghar.

Among the early voters, when polling started at 7 a.m. in the 10 constituencies, was industrialist Anil Ambani who cast his vote in a south Mumbai polling centre with a battery of media cameras clicking away.

In Mumbai North, former union minister Ram Naik also turned up early, smiling and greeting his constituents.

In Bandra, among the noted personalities who came to vote were Sonam Kapoor, Rahul Bose, Sushma Reddy, Amrita Rao, Sonali Bendre, Aamir Khan and several television stars.

South Mumbai Congress candidate Milind Deora, his father and union minister Murli Deora and their family members also cast their votes. Shiv Sena’s Mohan Rawle exercised his franchise early as well.

In Kalyan seat in Thane district, Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) candidate Vasant Davkhare voted with his family members.

Mumbai North-Central candidates – Congress’ Priya Dutt and her BJP rival and ace criminal lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani – also cast their votes early.

In stark contrast to metropolitan Mumbai’s glamour and glitz, barely 100 km north of Mumbai, tribals in Palghar queued up to cast their votes.

Over 22,000 security personnel drawn from both police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful polling in Mumbai.

Police have detained over 12,000 ‘anti-social elements’ to ward off any trouble in the nation’s financial capital, where around 70 polling stations have been identified as ‘sensitive’.