EC aims to mobilise more voters in CM Shinde’s home turf

Published - May 18, 2024 11:35 pm IST


The Election Commission of India (ECI) will be rolling out special measures to mobilise voters in Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s home turf -- Thane. It is banking on ASHA workers, government employees, village sevaks, housing society managing committees, etc. to get voters to exercise their franchise. Thane district, which goes to polls on Monday, has urban, semi-urban and rural population mix, and also a history of low voter turnout of around 50% or less. The district has three parliamentary constituencies – Thane, Kalyan and Bhiwandi. Each of these parliamentary seats has six Assembly segments. “To ensure higher voter turnout, special initiatives will be rolled out as part of the door-to-door outreach programme,” said S. Chockalingam, State Chief Electoral Officer, at Thane. He said anganwadi workers, village volunteers, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, employees of local self-government, managing committee members of the housing societies, representatives of resident federations, etc. have been roped in to boost voter participation in the 18th Lok Sabha election. The voter turnout in Thane parliamentary constituency was 49.39% (2019), 50.85% (2014), 41.50% (2009) and 26.78% (2008 by-election). The turnout at Bhiwandi seat was 53.2% (2019), 51.61% (2014) and 39.39% (2009). At Kalyan, the voter turnout in the last three polls was 45.31% (2019), 42.88% (2014) and 34.3% (2009). The national average of voting in the previous general election was 67%. Despite the history of low voter turnout, the election machinery is aiming to achieve a 75% target in the district this time. The district has 65,01,671 registered voters. This includes 29,94,315 female, 35,06,082 male and 1,274 transgender voters. The voter information slip has a QR code to facilitate them in locating their respective polling stations.

On two seats – Thane and Kalyan, there are both factions of the Shiv Sena facing each other. The battle for Bhiwandi constituency is largely between sitting Member of Parliament Kapil Patil of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Suresh Mhatre of the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Pawar). Traditionally, this seat has witnessed close contests between the BJP and the Congress. During the previous three general elections, vote share has been between the undivided Shiv Sena and undivided NCP, with the Sena retaining the seat every time. In 2024, the incumbent, Shiv Sena’s Shrikant Shinde, son of the Chief Minister, is challenged by Vaishali Darekar Rane of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).

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