Several Indian corporate chieftains such as Anil Ambani, Adi Godrej and HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh also cast their votes early
Leading Bollywood stars including Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Shilpa Shetty, Madhuri Dixit and Anupam Kher were among the early voters who cast their votes in Mumbai on Monday, where the heartthrob of the 1990s Urmila Matondkar is one of the candidates in the prestigious Mumbai North constituency.
Besides film stars, several Indian corporate chieftains such as Anil Ambani, Adi Godrej and HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh also cast their votes early in the day in the commercial capital of India, which is infamous for its lower voter turnout.
“It is a tough fight. Hope the younger voters will back me. We need to defeat those who lie,” Urmila Matondkar said, after casting her vote.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which includes 12 of Maharashtra’s 48 constituencies, polled 52.66 percent in the last national election of 2014. This was, however, more than 10 percent higher than the 41.40 percent voting in 2009.
Bollywood celebrities such as Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachan, his son and daughter-in-law Abishek Bachan and Aishwarya Rai and industry leaders such as Mukesh Ambani, Birla group top honcho Kumar Mangalam Birla and Kotak Bank promoter Uday Kotak are also expected to cast their votes.
Today’s polling is the Phase 4 of the on-going Indian national elections, in which voting in 72 Lok Sabha (Lower House of India’s Parliament) constituencies across 9 states are taking place.
Monday’s elections are considered to be crucial for Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s party BJP which has won 42 seats out of the 72 seats in the 2014 election.
Importantly, most of the constituencies where polling is taking place on Monday fall in the Hindi heartland where Modi’s BJP lost three crucial state elections – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – as recently as December 2018.
Political analysts say BJP has been fighting hard to defend its seats won in the last general elections, riding on the national security issue after the air strike against Pakistan in Balakot recently.
Though issues like national security may gain traction with voters in India’s border states like Rajasthan, most of the north Indian states, often described as the ‘cow belt’, have been facing massive farmer unrest in the recent years.
In order to woo this important group of voters, both BJP and Congress have made tall promises for the farmers and rural poor in their election manifestos.
In fact, GoP Indian national Congress has won the three crucial north Indian states mainly on account of its poll promise of writing off farmers’ loan within 10 days of coming to power.
In states like Maharashtra, drought like situations have been prevailing in many parts, causing more losses and suffering to the farmer and rural communities there.
BJP leaders, however, have been hoping that Prime Minister Modi’s personal charisma and popularity among voters, especially in the northern belt, will help it to beat his government’s anti-incumbency and issues such as rural distress.
Mumbai’s two landmarks, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), will remain shut on Monday on account of the polling.