With the BSE Sensex voting for a change in government, over the past couple of months, traditionally apolitical Mumbaikars also turned up to vote in much larger numbers this time.
India’s financial capital averaged a turnout of 53%, way higher than the 41.43% reported in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Among the six constituencies, South Mumbai recorded a voter turnout of 54%, a third higher than in 2009, while in Mumbai North Central the turnout was 55% and in Mumbai North West even higher at 60%. While queues at polling stations were shorter in the afternoon, the momentum picked up in the evening.
India Inc was out in full force; from Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani to Chanda Kochhar, MD &CEO, ICICI Bank, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD, TCS and AM Naik, chairman, Larsen &Toubro, industrialists and professionals. However, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh’s name was missing from the list of voters. The film fraternity too made more than just a guest appearance; leading actors Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Waheeda Rehman voted as did several others. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and adman Prasoon Joshi were among the early voters.
Voter turnout was high elsewhere in the country too as several first-timers exercised their franchise in the seventh phase of polling covering 117 constituencies spread across 12 states. With this phase, the elections crossed the half-way mark. While West Bengal saw a remarkably high 82% of the electorate cast its vote, in Tamil Nadu the number was 73% while in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the turnouts were 64.4% and 59%, respectively.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi filed his nomination for contesting the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh. Modi, who is also contesting from Vadodara in Gujarat, was accompanied by thousands of supporters. In a record turnout, 73% of the 5.50 crore electorate in Tamil Nadu cast their votes in 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in the single-phase voting today which passed off by and large peacefully.
Barring one incident of a clash between security forces and villagers, in Rajasthan, where forces opened 14 rounds of fire at Satha village in Dausa district, polling was peaceful. Five persons including four photo journalists were injured and and vehicles were damaged in the skirmish.