Mumbai: The first phase of elections in Maharashtra for 10 Lok Sabha seats got underway here Thursday morning with early voters queuing up outside polling stations, officials said.
A total of 201 candidates, including 90 independents, are in the fray and they are vying for attention of around 1.22 crore voters spread in Vidarbha region.
There a total of eight general category constituencies, while one is reserved for Scheduled Tribes and one for Scheduled Castes.
The maximum number of 33 candidates are contesting from Nagpur, while seven - the lowest - are in the fray in Akola.
Out of 201 candidates, there are only 15 women candidates, including two from prominent parties like Nationalist Congress Party and Aam Aadmi Party.
Among the political parties, the maximum number of seats are being contested by Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party with 10, followed by the Congress seven and Bharatiya Janata Party six candidates.
Shiv Sena has put up four candidates, NCP has three and CPI has one candidate.
In terms of electorate, the Nagpur constituency with 1.62 million voters is the largest while Bhandara-Gondia with a little over one million voters is the smallest.
The Election Commission has deployed 10 general observers, and 10 election expenditure observers to monitor the first phase of elections.
The 10 constituencies that went to polls Thursday are Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Bhandara-Gondiya, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Nagpur, Ramtek, Wardha and Yavatmal-Washim.
Prominent candidates whose fate will be sealed in EVMs include union Minister Praful Patel (NCP), Congress MP Vilas Muttemwar, BJP ex-president Nitin Gadkari, AAP state leader Anjali Damania, former minister and AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, state Congress ministers Shivajirao Moghe and Sanjay Deotale.
Then, there are Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar (BRP) - the grandson of B. R. Ambedkar, former model-actress Navneet Kaur Rana (NCP), realtor Gunvant Devpare (BSP) and independent candidate Balasaheb Darade, a former NASA consultant who is supported by Anna Hazare.
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