Amid Exodus to Home States, Mumbai Voters Urged to Secure Right to Vote

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Campaigners encourage strategic journey planning as trains to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar run to capacity.

Team Clarion

MUMBAI — As Mumbai gears up for the May 20 crucial general elections, concerns have increased over the impact of a mass exodus of voters to their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. With trains expected to run at full capacity in the coming weeks, door-to-door campaigners are rallying voters to ensure they exercise their democratic rights amidst the travel chaos.

The exodus, primarily driven by passengers returning to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, has left trains bound for destinations like Gorakhpur and Varanasi overflowing. Several popular trains, including Kushinagar Express and Oudh Express, are fully booked until mid-June, with even air-conditioned coaches experiencing high demand.

The timing of this surge coincides with the period when many residents, particularly those belonging to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand, traditionally return home for the summer vacation, culminating in a potential clash with the upcoming elections. Concerns loom large that the departure of thousands, including a significant number of eligible voters, could significantly impact the voter turnout.

In response to these challenges, campaigners have been actively engaging with voters, urging them to plan their journey strategically to ensure their participation in the electoral process.

Shakir Sheikh from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind underscored the importance of voter awareness, stating, “It was anticipated that thousands of people would go to their native land.” He emphasised the need for voters to understand the significance of the election and take measures to ensure their participation.

Pratibha Shinde echoed similar sentiments, stressing the need for voters not to be negligent in exercising their franchise. “Understanding the importance of this election, at least that much should be done to shorten the journey or if there is a name in the native land, then vote there,” she urged. The campaign aims to instill a sense of responsibility among voters, reminding them that while travel may be necessary, participation in the electoral process is important.

However, despite these efforts, challenges persist. Feedback from individuals hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar revealed several reasons why they are hesitant to return to Mumbai before casting their vote. These include longstanding travel plans, unavailability of reserved seats, and a perceived prioritisation of hometown visits over voting. With the summer vacation drawing to a close, many find it logistically challenging to return to the city in time for the elections.

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