Bollywood stars, rich Indians vote in 4th phase of giant election


Leading lights of the Indian corporate sector and Bollywood stars on Monday turned out in strength to cast their votes during the fourth phase of polling in Indian parliamentary elections in India’s financial and entertainment capital Mumbai. Many captains of the Indian industry shed their impeccable suits in favour of informal attire as they queued up outside polling booths, many of them located inside Mumbai civic body-run schools.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das was in a queue outside a polling station, voting for the first time in Mumbai after shifting from New Delhi following his appointment as the banking sector regulator chief in December. Polling was held today in six constituencies of Mumbai region and 16 other constituencies of Maharashtra state where 3.11 crore voters were eligible to exercise their democratic right. Maharashtra sends 48 MPs to Lok Sabha, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh which has 80 parliamentary seats.

 Polling for the previous three phases of national elections in Maharashtra was held on April 11 (seven seats), April 18 (10 seats) and April 23 (14 seats).
Saffron allies BJP and Shiv Sena are contesting three seats each out of the total six constituencies in Mumbai. The Congress nominees are in fray in five of these seats while its ally Nationalist Congress Party has fielded its candidate in one seat.

After exercising his franchise at a booth in tony South Mumbai, home to most of the rich and famous of India, Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra seemed to suggest that there was no need to fear coalitions. "We have all been infected with the virus of progress and growth. Even if a coalition comes, it will tread on the same path and it is advantageous for us," he told reporters.

Sajjan Jindal, who heads the diversified conglomerate JSW, also seemed to be open to the idea of coalitions. "We have had coalition governments at the Centre and they have provided very good governance. There is no problem. I think we are a very mature democracy and we have seen even coalition governments providing good governance, so I am not worried," he told reporters after casting his vote. Issues like industrial growth, jobs and security need to be grappled with, Jindal said and underlined the need to have a stable government at the Centre which can provide continuous development.

"As long as a coalition is a strongly-bonded one, we can do well," Godrej group chairman Adi Godrej said. India's richest man Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and richest banker Uday Kotak have publicly endorsed Milind Deora, Congress candidate from Mumbai South. Tata group chairman N Chandrasekaran was among the first ones to vote among Corporate India leaders. Accompanied by his wife, he voted at a booth in Worli in the morning, minutes after polling began. Another leading industrialist Anil Ambani was also among the early voters.

Indian engineering giant L&T's chairman A M Naik also voted at a polling booth in Bandra along with wife and so did Naresh Goyal who founded the recently-grounded budget airlines Jet Airways. Bollywood super stars Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, yesteryear actors Rekha and Madhuri Dixit Nene came out of their homes early in the morning to exercise their franchise. Aamir came along with his wife Kiran Rao.

Posting on Twitter a selfie showing her inked finger, Priyanka wrote "This is the moment that matters.... Every vote is a voice that counts. #LokSabhaElections2019" while Madhuri tweeted "Voting is our right, let's use it wisely! The future of our country is in our hands. Let's do our duty and #VoteForIndia." Actor Urmila Matondkar, who recently joined the Congress and is contesting from North constituency of the city, was also among the first ones to cast her vote.

Other Bollywood celebrities who voted included actors R Madhavan, Amrita Rao , Rahul Bose and Kunal Kohli. Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan, along with wife Jaya, voted at a polling booth in Juhu this afternoon. Daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and son Abhishek Bachchan the senior Bachchan couple.
Another Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan cast his vote in his constituency Mumbai North Central accompanied by his wife Gauri Khan and his youngest son AbRam. Star-couple Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh also cast their votes.