Of the three polling booths in Kurla West, the Anjuman Islam Urdu medium school was the one to go the extra mile on polling day to ensure that all its voters exercised their rights. The centre had special facilities like wheelchairs for senior citizens and specially-abled voters. “Every voter is a king today. Everyone must be provided with every facility that they demand,” said Anita Shinde, an election duty officer posted at the school.
Differently-abled Suresh Venkat thus had a hassle-free experience while voting at the centre. So did Vatsala Arjun Karande, who has been on the wheel-chair for the past four to five years.
Sunil Purshottam Jadhav, a 45-year-old voter at the booth, too was happy with the arrangements. “Voting is a duty. The youth especially must go out and exercise this right.”
A few voters at the booth, however, couldn’t find their names in the voters list. An anxious Sunanda Ullah said, “We come out to register our votes but do not find our names on the list. This is annoying.”
In Anjuman Islam Urdu High School, 85-year-old Laxmi Bai came to vote with her husband, Yashwant Nikam. “Voting is our basic right and we want to make sure that the country is governed by the right people,” she said. The elderly couple are ardent voters and have been voting together for the past four decades.
By 11 am, approximately 12 per cent of voters had cast their votes. Zonal Officer Rajesh Vibhute Rajesh, a Mantrayala employee, said, “The peak time for voting is between 1 and 4 pm.”When asked about people’s names missing from the voters’ list, an election officer said, “We have only four booths and this is a huge area. People simply complain about their names missing from the list but they do not check their polling station properly. There are different schools here so probably their name is in the other school.”
“People who have shifted their residents do not update their new addresses. They only complain about how their names missing from the lists,” she added.
Razia Sultana, who visited the polling booth with her son and sister-in-law, said, “We have no complaints with the election procedures. All these years it has been very smooth.”
Another voter at the booth, however, complained of his family’s names missing from the list. “I have two other relatives in my family and their names haven’t appeared in the list. It hasn’t been updated since we changed our residence. It’s the same story every year.”
While some names were missing, for 60-year-old Sheikh Muhammad Ali, his wife who died some years ago, still figured on the list. “We tried updating it but to no avail,” said the painter, while showing his paintings. “I have faced no problems during elections. The police officers are doing a good job and all procedures are conducted peacefully,” he said.
Sarika Vishwakarma, on duty at the security gate of Anjuman Islam Urdu High School, said, “I haven’t received my voter ID yet; no one in my family has. But our names are on the list in Shanti Nagar.”
MNS leader votes at Kurla’s Orchid school
Mangala Naikwadi, a leader of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) that has fielded 101 candidates across the state this election, cast her vote at the Orchid International School in Kurla West. “I advise people of my party and others to exercise their right as voters. We encourage them to not plan trips during these days. The choice of the party one votes for is up to them but one must vote,” she said as she exited the polling booth.
As a social worker, Naikwadi works in the field of women and child development in her locality. “Women of Kurla come to seek help with regard to the socio-economic issues they face in their everyday lives. We form a union of people with an aim to increase the feeling of brotherhood and unity among the residents here,” she explained the nature of her work.
Another voter at the booth said that she was happy with the way her locality was being governed. “I am very happy with the way things are functioning. The residents of Kurla have never been affected during riots or any other troubling times. We are satisfied but we would be glad to have young blood ruling the nation and bringing about change,” she said.
By 10 am, the polling station had witnessed around 20 per cent voter turnout. Officials said that by noon, the number was expected to increase to about 100 people per hour.
Kids on duty at Mahila Mandal school
At the Mahila Mandal School at Kurla West, some students from the school were seen volunteering to escort people to the booths. “Our teacher asked us to volunteer on a holiday for the election duty. We were very happy to do so,” said an excited duo. However, “we do not understand politics yet. It is too complex,” said one of them.
Avni Kumar, the officer on duty at the booth, said that the centre saw a steady flow of voters since morning. “No mishaps or issues have taken place at this centre. It has been a smooth process so far,” Kumar said.
A rush at the school gates in the morning, however, led to some confusion. People carrying mobile phones were not allowed to enter the venue. The policemen at the gates refused to allow people with phones inside leading to some voters returning home or reluctantly leaving their phones outside with strangers.
“They are making it worse for voters. How can one be expected to not have a cell phone?” said an angry voter. “Everything is going downhill with the present government. There is so much more room for improvement. Hindutva is becoming the topic of focus instead of focusing on other major issues,” he added.
Written by Journalism Students Krystelle Dsouza and Shruti Vanjare
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