Mumbaikars to get paid leave to vote

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Mumbai:  The Maharashtra government has ordered all businesses in the state to give employees registered to vote a day's paid leave on October 13 when Maharashtra votes for its Assembly.

Employers who fail to do so could go to jail. It's a first of its kind attempt by the Maharashtra government to induce citizens to vote.

Kavita Gupta, Secretary, Labour Department says: "Earlier voters would be given a few hours off to go vote and come. Now they will have to be given the day off. This is to encourage people to go out and vote."

The reason is this: Voters, especially in cities like Mumbai, are not stepping out to vote. They choose instead to work, or worse, take a holiday.

Mumbai saw 41.41% polling in the Lok Sabha elections 2009, lower than the 47.5 % turnout in 2004.
The figure is especially low as less than six months before elections were held, the aftermath of 26/11 saw a huge outpouring of public anger that most thought would translate to people coming out to vote for change.

This time, to ensure that voters get their time off to vote, the Labour department has formed 28 flying squads to monitor complaints. These teams will also inspect establishments to find if registered voters have been given the choice to take the day off.

While most companies NDTV spoke to declined to comment, they said they would comply with the government's orders.

And how is the voter reacting?

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"I think it is a good idea. People will come out and vote", says one Mumbaikar. Another says: "It will not achieve anything. If you give me the day off, I would rather stay home.

A day's holiday or an incentive to vote? How Mumbai performs on October 13 will show how the city chose to interpret it.

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