Mumbai: A total of 179 candidates are in the fray from ten constituencies in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra where voting will be held on April 18.
A senior poll official Wednesday said around 85,46,000 voters are expected to exercise their franchise at 20,716 booths in these constituencies, spread in parts of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.
“A live webcast of (polling) will be held at 2100 polling booths,” said the official from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).
The seats are: Buldhana, Akola, Amravati in Vidarbha and Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur in Marathwada and Solapur in south-western Maharashtra.
Prominent candidates in the fray are former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde of Congress, who are contesting from Nanded and Solapur seats, respectively.
In the 2014 elections, the NDA won 8 out of these 10 seats, riding the Narendra Modi wave, whereas the Congress won the remaining two seats – Nanded and Hingoli.
Beed constituency has the highest number of contestants at 36 while 10 candidates are contesting from Latur.
In Beed, the home constituency of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, his daughter Pritam is seeking another term.
She is facing Bajrang Sonawane of the NCP.
The hectic campaign in Beed saw Pritam’s sister and state Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde, and her estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde, Leader of Opposition in the state Council, addressing several rallies.
“There are 12 candidates in Buldana, 11 in Akola, 24 in Amravati, 28 in Hingoli, 14 in Nanded, 17 in Parbhani, 14 in Osmanabad and 13 candidates in Solapur Lok Sabha constituency,” Maharashtra Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dilip Shinde said, adding that a total of four constituencies have more than 15 candidates.
“Beed Lok Sabha constituency will have three ballot units in a control unit while Amravati, Akola and Parbhani will have two ballot units. Remaining six constituencies will have one ballot unit,” he said.
A total of 62,700 Electronic Voter Machines (37850 ballot units and 24,850 control units) and around 27000 VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines are in place for the second phase.
“According to guidelines from the Election Commission of India, arrangements have also been made for drinking water and shade for voters. Besides ‘Sakhi’ polling booths have been set up in each Assembly constituency,” Shinde said.
Sakhi polling stations are aimed at encouraging more female voters to exercise their franchise.
“Around 10 per cent of the total polling booths will webcast live and the offices of the district election officer, the CEO, and the ECI will keep a tab on the voting process,” he added.
Maharashtra, which sends second highest number of MPs to Lok Sabha (48) after Uttar Pradesh (80), is voting in four phases.
A total of seven constituencies, all in the Vidarbha region in East Maharashtra, had voted in the first phase on April 11, recording a voter turnout of over 61 per cent.
Polling will be held on April 23 and 29 for the remaining seats.