Millions vote in Maharashtra in crucial civic polls

Mumbai, Feb 21:  Millions voted on Tuesday in Maharashtra to elect 10 major civic bodies, including the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), India’s largest and richest civic body.

The election, which will also pick 11 Zilla Parishads and 118 Panchayat Samitis, is widely seen as a referendum on Chief Minister Devendra Fadvis.

By close of balloting, an estimated 50 per cent of Mumbai’s 9.2 million (92 lakh) electorate had voted. Early voters included political leaders as well as Bollywood actors.

The country’s commercial capital and the richest civic body has generally recorded a dismal voter turnout.

But the encouraging turnout prompted Fadvis to tweet: “Thank you Mumbai for the record voting percentage and … for participating in festival of democracy!”

Controlled by the Shiv Se and Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) for four terms, the BMC has a budget of Rs 37,052 crore for the current year (2016-17) catering to a population of around 18.30 million.

A generous dose of glamour, glitz and power play was visible in Mumbai at the 7,304 booths to elect 227 BMC corporators from among 2,275 candidates.

Early voters included Sharad Pawar, his daughter Supriya Pawar, Uddhav and wife Rashmi Thackeray and Maharashtra vnirman Se President Raj and wife Sharmila Thackeray. Chief Minister Fadvis and his wife Amruta voted in gpur. So did union minister Nitin Gadkari and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Among the Bollywood persolities who voted — and asked everyone to vote too — were Rekha, Hema Malini, Prem Chopra, Kamini Kaushal, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Shraddha Kapoor, John Abraham, Vivek Oberoi, Arshad Warsi and Shreyas Talpade, renowned poet Gulzar and filmmaker Subhash Ghai.

An electorate of 3.77 crore has put the seal on the fate of 17,331 candidates for 5,512 seats, including 1,268 in 10 municipal corporations, 2,956 in 11 Zilla Parishads and 1,288 seats in 118 Panchayat Samitis in the second and fil phase of the polling. The results shall be declared on Thursday. (IANS)