The recently concluded Lok Sabha elections in Mumbai has revealed a certain lack of enthusiasm among the Marathi voters. A cursory look at the assembly segments where Marathi voters are in majority has revealed that that the turnout of this linguistic group, which is usually politically enthusiastic, barely matched the average turnout in the city.
Data reveals that other linguistic groups in the city including Gujaratis voted enthusiastically in pockets where they are strong. The polling percentage in Borivali in North Mumbai constituency was 66.19%, which is way higher than the city average of around 55 per cent. Whereas the Marathi pocket of Kandivali East recorded only 52.53% turnout. In Colaba in South Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency which also houses Marathi pocket borough of Girgaon recorded an abysmally low percentage of 45.15%. Worli and Sewri also voted pretty low at 52% and 51% respectively.
A Shiv Sena worker on condition of anonymity accepted that Marathi voters’ apathy will impact his party’s prospect in South Mumbai polls. In South Mumbai alone due to Metro projects in Krantinagar, large scale redevelopment in Tardeo and Tejukaya Society, emptying of police quarters in Worli led to migration of the Marathi voters. Shiv Sena has seen a lack of accessibility among leaders, groupism and factionalism which has impacted its ability to convince voters to come out and vote.
Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant opines that in the month of May, Marathis hailing from coastal Konkan go on a vacation and hence could have missed voting. In hushed voices, Congress leaders, however, admit that Marathi voters are disillusioned with Shiv Sena for having aligned with the BJP after targeting the party for four-and-a-half years.
Political analyst Dr Surendra Jondhale attributes the apathy to migration of Marathis outside the city, migration of the textile workers to rural parts of the state and disillusionment over Shiv Sena-BJP alliance. MNS chief Raj Thackeray urging the people to vote for a non-traditional choice like the Congress has added to the confusion.