If we stand on the bridge over the railway line at Sion in Mumbai, we are truly between two different worlds.

On one side is the middle class area of Sion, with its wide roads, shops filled with fashionable clothes and toys for children, Domino’s Pizza and Barista coffee outlets, and children riding their bicycles.

On the other side are the narrow lanes of Dharavi, the largest slum area in Asia. Dharavi is a mini- India, with people from all over the country living there.  

When we enter Dharavi, we feel as if we have left Mumbai to enter another city.

I once had occasion to go to the Kumbharwada area, in Dharavi.

On one side of the narrow lane there were the Zopadis or hutments of the Kumbhars, or pot makers. On the other side there was a large, foulsmelling cesspool of stagnated sewage water.

It seemed that some months earlier, a sewage waste pipe had burst and the sewage water had flowed out to the side of the lane.
The pipe had been repaired, but the sewage water had not been drained off.

I asked the women I had gone to meet, why they did not tell the Municipal authorities.
“They do not listen to us.” was the reply.
“Why not?”I asked.
It seemed that the local corporator had told them not to.
I learned that both the local corporator and the MLA belonged to the Congress party, while most of the residents of that area had voted for the BJP.
So much for the corporator or MLA representing all his constituents once he is elected.
“Next time we will vote for the Congress.” they told me.

In the Mumbai suburb of Khar (East) between the Western Express highway and the Khar railway station, there is a large slum area. If you walk through the lanes there, you can see the flags of various political parties on many buildings.

The local social organisations or Mandals are generally affiliated to one or another political party.

I went there once to the home of a girl that I knew. She told me that lately some people belonging to a religious group had been coming every Sunday to their area. There were eight or ten of them and they came from outside that area. They sold religious books and told local people about their religion.
The locals were afraid that they meant to convert them. So they asked for the support of the local SS shakha.
And after that voted for the SS in every election.
Corporators and MLAs have funds which they use for building projects in their constituencies. These are public funds, not private ones. Essentially the tax-payers’ money.
But the money is used as though these are funds provided for election campaigns.
Public toilets are constructed and the name of the corporator prominently displayed on them.
Meeting halls are also built. Roads are repaired.  

And all these welfare projects are situated in areas where the majority citizens vote for that particular corporator.

I have recently read several times, in the media as well as on blogs, about how uneducated voters should be educated on how to vote.

Perhaps educated voters need some instruction, too?

Firstly, they could be educated regarding the need to actually cast their vote– the turn out on voting day, in upper- middle- class educated areas being on the lower side.

Secondly, they might also like a lesson in realpolitiks. They may care to learn that the voters in under-privileged areas cannot just get up and vote for the candidate or party that they like. They have to keep many other factors in mind while deciding whom to vote for.

If educated voters really want these general elections to be different, perhaps they should start thinking of ways to address the problems of the residents of these “second cities” that exist everywhere in India.