Voter turnout the biggest challenge

Mumbai, Polling for the third and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra will be held today, deciding the fate of 338 candidates including NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and Union Minister Milind Deora, vying for 19 seats, six of which are in Mumbai.

There have been consistent efforts to get the people to go out and vote. Advertisements featuring ambassadors like film star Aamir Khan apart from other public service announcements and company incentives like giving an official holiday to employees, have been used to motivate voters. Officials say that they are also expecting Mumbai’s cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar to set aside the IPL matches in order to vote.However, the Bollywood brigade will be conspicuously absent, due to the IIFA awards being held in the US. Mumbai city and its suburbs, along with Thane, Bhiwandi and Nasik go to the polls today. However, many fear that the weather could play spoiler. Temperatures are likely to touch 36 degrees and reports state that there are no arrangements in placeto protect voters, who will be forced to queue up in the sweltering heat.
So far, 62 per cent polling has been recorded in the first two phases. It has increased by 10 per cent since 2009. Mumbai city, however marked only a 43 per cent turnout in 2009 and officials are hoping it will improve this time.

In 2009, the voter turnout in South Mumbai was 40.34 per cent, South-Central Mumbai – 39.53 per cent, North-Central Mumbai – 39.5 per cent, North-East Mumbai – 42.46 per cent, North-West Mumbai – 44.06 per cent and North Mumbai -42.58 per cent.

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