Mumbai: Polling began today in 19 constituencies across Maharashtra during second phase of Lok Sabha election to decide the fate of 358 candidates, including Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, former state Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde.
About 3,24,27,558 electorate in constituencies of western Maharashtra, Marathwada and Konkan are eligible to cast their votes in this phase of polling. Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure free and fair polling, which began at 7 AM.
Voting in the first phase at 10 constituencies of Vidarbha was completed on April 10 and more than 60 per cent electorate cast their votes. In the second phase, there are 358 candidates in the fray, including 24 women and 201 independents.
Voters in the second phase include 1,69,54,391 men and 1,53,77,605 women.
There are 306 voters in the 'others' category and 95,256 in the service category. The constituencies which will go to polls are Hingoli, Nanded, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Latur in Marathwada; Pune, Baramati, Shirur, Maval, Solapur, Madha, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Hathkanangale in Western Maharashtra; Shirdi, Ahmednagar in North Maharashtra and Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg in Konkan.
The generation next of Maharashtra politics- Supriya Sule (daughter of NCP chief Sharad Pawar is contesting from Baramati) and Nilesh Rane (Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg) - are seeking their second term. Indian Youth Congress chief Rajiv Satav, who is currently a legislator, is making a debut in electoral politics from Hingoli. Vishwajit Kadam, the state Youth Congress chief and son of Congress veteran Patangrao Kadam, is also making a foray from Pune.
Beed constituency has the maximum 39 candidates, while Baramati has the lowest 9.
Electorate-wise, the largest constituency is Maval with 19,46,127 voters, while the smallest one is Ratnagiri- Sindhudurg (13,63,957).
While Shinde is contesting from Solapur, Ashok Chavan, who had to quit three years ago over the alleged involvement in the Adarsh Housing scam, is the Congress candidate from his home turf of Nanded. BJP's Munde is seeking a second term as MP from Beed.
Union Minister of State Pratik Patil (Congress) is seeking a second term from Sangli. BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, state Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had campaigned for their respective party candidates.
Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency has seen NCP defying Sharad Pawar's diktat to the local party unit to campaign for Congress candidate Nilesh Rane.
While in Pune, much depends on whether sitting Congress MP SUresh Kalmadi remains true to his word not to harm the electoral prospects of party candidate Vishwajit Kadam. BSP has fielded candidates in all 19 constituencies, followed by NCP which is contesting 10, Congress 9, Shiv Sena 8, BJP 7, MNS 2, CPI and CPM one each.
There are 36,879 polling stations, where 44,254 EVMs will be used for voting. Nearly 2,76,592 polling personnel will be deployed during the voting process.