Mumbai: Bollywood celebrities Rekha, Vidya Balan, Sunny Deol and Sonam Kapoor were among the early-morning voters who gave a head start to voting in Mumbai Thursday.
In Mumbai and also across the state, voting began on a brisk note with most of the voters seemed keen to avoid sweltering heat as mercury has risen to 39 degree Celsius in the last two days.
Actress Vidya Balan was among the first Bollywood celebrity to cast her vote. Vidya, who lives in suburban Juhu after her marriage with UTV head Siddharth Roy Kapur, cast her vote at a Chembur booth. When asked about her voting in Chembur, she said laughing, "Why not.. this gives me a chance to come to Chembur..I do come often". "Its my responsibility to vote...To point fingers at others and (if) I face a problem, I need to have this on my finger," she said displaying her inked finger.
Yesteryear actress and Rajya Sabha member (nominated) Rekha came in a track suit to exercise her right to franchise. Actors Sunny Deol and Sonam Kapoor also cast their votes. In suburban Dadar, morning walkers armed with their photo voter slips arrived at polling stations and were seen searching for their names in the voter rolls before entering booths.
In neighbouring Dombivali, which falls in the Kalyan Lok Sabha constituency, voters thronged polling booths even before they were opened. "I wanted to avoid to heat in the afternoon and I was eagerly awaiting for the polling to open so that I am the first to cast my vote. It feels good," said a middle-aged voter.
In Nashik in north Maharashtra, an ex-serviceman said he was voting for the first time in his life. "While in service, we were posted all over the country and could not exercise our franchise. Now after retirement, I decided that I will be the first to cast my vote," he said. Another early voter said she felt proud after exercising her right to franchise.
338 candidates are in the fray for the third and final phase of polling in 19 constituencies across Mumbai, Thane, North Maharashtra, Marathwada and Konkan regions.
In Aurangabad, a first-time voter, a middle-aged couple and senior citizens were among the early voters. In Mumbai, prominent among the early voters were candidates Gurudas Kamat (Congress), Poonam Mahajan , Gopal Shetty (both BJP) Arvind Sawant, Rahul Shewale (Shiv Sena), Adtiya Shirodkar (MNS) and Meera Sanyal (AAP). The Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde also cast his vote.
In neighbouring Thane, several voters had queued up outside polling booths even before they opened. However, polling began on a good note in the morning hours with a large number of women voters too turning out to exercise their right to franchise.
At two polling booths, the voting machines there developed a fault which was promptly rectified and voting restored. There are also reports of confusion among voters at several booths as they struggled to locate their names in voters list. Voters who did not receive the voting slips crowded the booths, delaying the process for a while.