Stars and Citizens Alike Cast Their Votes in Mumbai as India’s Marathon Election Continues

Featured & Cover Stars and Citizens Alike Cast Their Votes in Mumbai as India's Marathon Election Continues

In the midst of the world’s largest democratic exercise, celebrities, industrialists, and politicians turned out to vote in Mumbai, India’s financial powerhouse, as part of a weeks-long national election. This election will decide if Prime Minister Narendra Modi will secure another five-year term.

Polling took place on Monday across six constituencies in Mumbai, Maharashtra, and in 43 other constituencies nationwide. Millions of voters made their way to the polling booths to decide the leadership of the world’s most populous country.

In India’s wealthiest city, which also serves as the heart of Bollywood, numerous celebrities were photographed casting their votes, proudly displaying their ink-stained index fingers as proof of participation. Shah Rukh Khan, known as the “King of Bollywood,” was seen exiting a polling station in Mumbai with his family, including his wife Gauri, daughter Suhana, and sons Aryan and Abram. Another prominent Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan, also voted at a booth in the Andheri suburb.

“As responsible Indian citizens we must exercise our right to vote this Monday in Maharashtra,” Khan wrote on X over the weekend. “Let’s carry out our duty as Indians and vote keeping our country’s best interests in mind. Go forth Promote, our right to Vote.”

Other notable figures, such as film stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, who are expecting their first child, were also seen voting. Billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani, along with his wife Nita and son Akash, made their appearance at the polling stations as well.

Actor Akshay Kumar expressed his aspirations for India after casting his vote. “I voted… India should vote for what they deem is right…I think voter turnout will be good,” he said to local reporters, displaying his ink-stained finger.

Despite the star-studded turnout, voter participation in Maharashtra was relatively low, with only 54% turnout on Monday, and between 47-55% across Mumbai’s six constituencies, according to the Election Commission. In contrast, the northeastern state of West Bengal saw around 73% of eligible voters casting their ballots.

The main political players in Mumbai include Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the opposition Indian National Congress, and two rival factions of Shiv Sena, a local ultranationalist party with a significant influence in Mumbai politics.

Mumbai, home to more than 12 million people, is often compared to New York and is known as the “city of dreams,” where countless migrants from across India come in search of fortune and purpose. The city is a striking mix of extreme wealth and poverty, with skyscrapers standing next to slum dwellings and impoverished children begging at the windows of luxurious cars.

While many wealthy and famous individuals were seen voting, numerous migrant workers in the city were left out of the process. India’s election rules require voters to cast their ballots in their home constituencies, which means that those working outside their home state must travel back to vote. For many low-income, out-of-state workers, particularly those in the informal sector, the financial burden of traveling home is too great.

Mumbai voters have significant concerns about rising inflation and are seeking improvements in education and employment opportunities. Sachin Chaudhary, a 34-year-old grocer, previously told CNN, “The change I want to see is, things should become less costly,” emphasizing the need for better job prospects.

As India undertakes its massive democratic election, Mumbai’s participation showcased both the glitz of its celebrities and the struggles of its common citizens, all aiming for a better future under their chosen leadership.

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