a trip to the circus
Mumbai, May 16
Ruparel College could easily have been mistaken for the venue of an IPL match on Saturday morning as an excited crowd waited with bated breath for any news on the election results.
When cable TV blacked out for an hour 10.30 am onwards, political enthusiasts in the Mumbai South Central Constituency had teemed onto the streets in front of the College, Counting Centre No. 2. “I grew restless and decided to come down here to get first hand information,” stated a Dharavi resident. Motorists too stopped by to enquire about the progress of their candidates. More than thirty policemen stood guard near the centre, occasionally indulging in election gossip.
As the results after each round of count was declared, Congress candidate Eknath Gaikwad steadily left his competitors behind with a consistently growing margin. His initial lead of 3000 votes progressed to a 30,000 lead by the sixth round. Consequently a group of MNS party workers and counting agents gathered, visibly miffed about the outcome. “We have all voted for our party. How can our numbers be so few?” they questioned in Marathi.
Even before the final outcome had been declared, word about Gaikwad’s victory spread. Congress counting agents, during the afternoon tea break, said with their thumbs up, “Sampla. Aale Gaikwad saheb. (It’s over. Gaikwad has won.)” At 1.30, the victor arrived to a colourful welcome by supporters sporting red tilaks and gulaal. Hugs and greetings followed, as did chants of ‘Eknath Gaikwad aage badho, hum tumhare saath hain’.
While Gaikwad left shortly in his Qualis, the cops barred supporters from following him further as the official result was yet to be announced. This did not wipe the smiles off their faces though, as they cheerfully shot up victory signs and posed for the shutterbugs.