Maharashtra gears up for polls; BJP seeks 2nd term

Polling will be held on Monday in all 288 assembly constituencies of Maharashtra where 3,237 candidates, including 235 women, are in the fray.

IMAGE: Officials despatch EVMs and VVPATs ahead of the polls on Monday. Photograph: Sahil Salvi/

The voting will be held from 7 am to 6 pm.

Prominent candidates include Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis from Nagpur South-West, and his predecessors from the Congress — Ashok Chavan, who is contesting from Bhokar in Nanded district, and Prithviraj Chavan, who is seeking a re-election from Karad South in Satara district.

 

The Bharatiya Janata Party, under Fadnavis‘ leadership, is seeking a second straight term in the state.

Aaditya Thackeray, the son of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, has also entered the poll fray from Worli constituency in Mumbai.

The 29-year-old Yuva Sena chief is the first leader from his family to make a debut in electoral politics.

Voting will also be underway for the byelection to Satara Lok Sabha constituency, where former Nationalist Congress Party leader and sitting MP Udayanraje Bhosale is in the fray on BJP‘s ticket against Shriniwas Patil of the Congress-NCP combine.

The BJP has fielded its nominees in 164 assembly seats, including candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while the Sena is contesting 124 seats.

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On the other hand, the opposition Congress has fielded 147 candidates and its ally NCP 121.

The main contest is between the ‘Mahayuti‘ or grand alliance led by the BJP, and the ‘maha-aghadi‘ (front) led by the Congress and NCP.

Among other parties, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has fielded 101 candidates.

As many as 1,400 Independents are also in the fray.

The election campaign, which ended on Saturday evening, was dominated by the BJP‘s aggressive narrative of the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

The state has total 8,98,39,600 voters, including 1,06,76,013 in the age group of 18 to 25 years.

A total of 6.5 lakh polling personnel have been deployed at 96,661 polling booths across the state.

Nearly 1,35,021 voter verifiable paper audit trail machines have also been installed.

Of the 288 constituencies, Nanded-South seat has the maximum 38 candidates, while Chiplun in Ratnagiri district has just three nominees.

In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 122 seats, the Sena-63, the Congress-42 and the NCP-41.

Later, two by-elections were held due to the death of MLAs Krushna Ghoda (Palghar) and Bala Sawant (Bandra-East).

The Sena manged to retain both the seats.

In the run-up to the polls, several legislators of the Congress and NCP switched sides to the ruling BJP and Sena.

Some of them also managed to get tickets for the polls.

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