Maharashtra: Voting picks up to 31% by 1 p.m.



Starting on low-to-moderate, voting in Maharashtra picked up to notch 30.89 per cent by lunch time for the assembly elections to the 288 seats, even as repeated appeals went out to the electorate to step out and vote, officials said here on Monday.

While the tribal areas in different parts of the state such as Thane, Palghar, Chandrapur and Nandurbar recorded a higher turnout in the Festival of Democracy, most other parts of the state, especially the urban and semi-urban areas, lagged behind.

In at least five constituencies the voter turnout failed to cross 20 per cent -- Bhusawal (SC), Jalgaon Urban, Nashik Central, Bhiwandi East, Ulhasnagar -- and remained in the sub-20 per cent range.

However, Arjuni Morgaon (SC), Armori (ST), notched a turnout of 50 per cent and above, serving as an example to the rest of the voters.

Another 14 constituencies touched 40 per cent and above turnout, while the rest were in the 20-30 percentage range at half-time.

The state capital Mumbai recorded around 26 per cent while the second capital Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' hometown Nagpur was hovering at 27 per cent turnout.

Apparently alarmed by the low turnout, celebrities, political leaders appealed to people to step out and take part in the voting, with similar messages flooding social media, and volunteers going door-to-door to bring out the voters in some areas.

Among those who appealed to the people included RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, BJP ministers Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and his daughter, Supriya Sule, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant and others.

Election Commission officials attributed the slow start to the rain in many parts of the state, including Mumbai, and were optimistic that voting would pick up in the afternoon.

As the weather cleared in many parts, people started trickling out individually or with families and queued up at polling stations to vote.

Prominent celebrities, including Bharat Ratna recipient Sachin Tendulkar, leading Bollywood personalities such as Aamir Khan and top politicians like Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Narayan Rane, Balasaheb Thorat, Chandrakant Patil, Raj Thackeray, Nawab Malik, Mangalprabhat Lodha, state and central ministers and many more, not only exercised their franchise with families but also appealed to people to step out and vote.IANS