rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » 'If voting turnout is dismal, Priya Dutt will have a tough time'

'If voting turnout is dismal, Priya Dutt will have a tough time'

April 24, 2014 18:44 IST

'If voting turnout is dismal, Priya Dutt will have a tough time'

     Next

Next
Prasanna D Zore in Mumbai

Confident Muslims in the Behrampada locality in Mumbai’s suburban Bandra enjoy a bit of camaraderie amid listless voters and an unforgiving sun. Prasanna D Zore reports

A 90-minute walk in the hot summer sun through the Muslim pocket boroughs of Shivaji Nagar, Purshottam School and Behrampada, all in Mumbai’s Bandra East, throw up one striking face of the community. 

“We Muslims are like that,” echo four different people, irrespective of their gender and age. 

Confront them with a question that even the Hindus show the same trait -- avoid the severe summer sun, eat lunch, take a little nap, have the post-nap cuppa and then ready themselves for voting on any election day -- and they begin their self-flagellation with renewed vigour. 

Special Coverage: Election 2014

“What would you know of Muslims, sir?” asks Anwar Shaikh, a Shiv Sena upashakhapramukh (deputy of shakhapramukh, a head the Shiv Sena appoints to look after a particular neighbourhood), and a resident of predominantly Muslim Behrampada, sincerely attempting to cut your argument down to size. 

“We stay here and we know how people behave here,” he retorts sarcastically without sounding offensive or insulting of his community.

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: Priya Dutt is a two-time sitting MP from Mumbai North Central constituency


     Next

'Only 18 percent of 33,000 Muslims in Behrampada voted till 3 pm'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The debate begins when this correspondent expresses shock at the poor polling percentage recorded at Behrampada. Only 18 per cent of the 33,000 Muslims in the area have cast their vote by 3 pm, reveal Anwar and Irfan Syed, another local, who mans a polling helpdesk but on behalf of Congress’s Priya Dutt. 

“If this trend doesn’t change for good after 3 pm then Priyaji will have a tough time,” informs Syed about the winning chances of two-time sitting MP from Mumbai North Central constituency. She is locked in a quadrangular do-or-die battle with Poonam Mahajan of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Phiroze Palkhiwala of the Aam Aadmi Party and Farhan Azmi, of the Samajwadi Party.

His father Abu Azmi had won around 84,000 Muslim and north Indian migrant votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections thereby playing a spoiler in Dutt’s victory margin. This time around Farhan is expected to spell trouble for the Congress even as Mahajan is pepped up by support from the so-called Narendra Modi wave, admit both Syed and Shaikh.

“The absence of a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena candidate will help her (Mahajan) avoid a split in her dedicated voters and also the anti-incumbency against Dutt.” 

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: Anwar Shaikh (in white shirt, standing), a Shiv Sena upashakhapramukh stands beside his polling booth agents outside Behrampada. Seated behind him on the red chair is Irfan Syed, a Congress-appointed polling booth agent with his team members
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com

Prev     Next

'We will crowd polling stations at the last moment, harangue poll officers'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Least bothered about these hard numbers and the calculations that decide the fate of a candidate, Shaikh and Syed continue with their Muslim-bashing.

In fact, they enjoy bashing their community without meaning any offence to their compatriots. 

“You don’t know us,” continues Syed with a sly twinkle in his eyes. “We will wake up at the last moment and then crowd around polling agents and voting centres and harangue the election officers on duty to extend the timing by 30 minutes or 60 minutes.”  

“What he is saying is 100 per cent true,” emphasises Shaikh without feeling awkward at the ribbing his fellow Muslims.

For some time at least, in this sweltering sun, they have managed to forget their political differences and found some me-time to chitchat with a hack.

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: National Women's School, an important polling centre, that abuts the Bandra Railway Station to its west and Bandra Court on its east saw sporadic voter turnout
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com
Tags: 1

Prev     Next

'We Muslims are like that only'

Prev     More
Prev

More

Walk for another 15 minutes from where these two had their polling agents’ tables and you come across Azam Sarkar and Chhotu Baba (they refuse to get photographed saying in typical ‘Bombaiya’ slang “Lafda nahi mangta apoon ko (We don’t want to face any problems by revealing our identity.)”

They are manning two such adjoining polling booths closer to the National Women’s School, an important voting station for Muslims in the locality as it abuts the Bandra Railway Station and Bandra Civil Court. 

Ask them about the poor voting turnout and pop comes the reply: “We Muslims are like that only, bhaijaan (dear brother).” 

At this point you don’t argue sensing their mood. Nevertheless, you ask them why would they make such a sweeping statement. Pop comes the answer, “What would you know of Muslims, bhaijaan?”


Image: Constables and officers belonging to Mumbai Police, State Reserve Police Force and Central Paramilitary Force take rest under the Bandra East footover bridge in an area sponsored by the local unit of the Shiv Sena
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com

Prev     More