Will finance capital overcome voter apathy and stay ahead of the polls? | India News

MUMBAI: Today, Mumbai's corporate bosses will swap their suits for sneakers as they line up to vote. Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran will cast their votes at Villa Theresa High School on Peddar Road while Mahindra Group chief Anand Mahindra will exercise his franchise at Walsingham School in Malabar Hill .

Section 135B of the Representation of the People Act requires businesses and establishments in the electoral area to declare a paid holiday on election day. Essential services, including hospitals and electric utilities, have implemented flexible schedules to ensure both civic duties and critical services are met.

“To facilitate voting on Monday, functional managers may allow employees to either report late or leave early, up to a maximum of three hours if their duty hours are between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” the notice said a news medium.

At air conditioning and commercial refrigeration major Blue Star, “customer service and emergency employees will be given compensatory leave,” said the company’s managing director B. Thiagarajan.

In a city notorious for voter apathy, authorities have gone all out to boost voter turnout, bringing it closer to the national average of 67% in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The overall vote share in Mumbai has risen above 50% only three times since 1991. In 2019 polls, Mumbai's six Lok Sabha constituencies recorded a voter turnout of 55%.

However, there have been debates in certain circles about whether the introduction of an election holiday would lead to higher voter turnout.

“Employees are critical to the success of any organization and to the nation. Enabling them to vote without work commitments can be an important catalyst for increasing voter turnout,” said Neha Mishra, head of popular voting at Homesfy.

However, the fact that polling day in Mumbai falls on a Monday, the first day of the corporate week, could dampen enthusiasm due to pressure to meet various deadlines. Blackstone-backed managing director of Aadhar Housing Finance, Rishi Anand, said: “Although there is no compulsory voting, a day off will definitely encourage voters to cast their vote. “If they vote, it will help in the decision , who will be the people’s representative who will govern the country on our behalf.”

Meanwhile, the Mumbai chapter of the National Restaurant Association of India is offering a 'Democracy Discount' on Monday and Tuesday, giving those who voted a 20% discount on the food bill. A tattooed finger is required to take advantage of the offer.

Sybil Alvarez

"Incurable gamer. Infuriatingly humble coffee specialist. Professional music advocate."

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