Maharashtra Assembly polls, LS bypoll: Counting begins

Around 25,000 personnel are deployed on counting duty, an election official said, adding police have also made adequate arrangements to ensure a smooth counting process.Photo/AFP

Counting of votes for Maharashtra Assembly polls and Satara Lok Sabha bypoll, held on Monday, began at 8 am on Thursday, election officials said.

Counting of votes for all the 288 Assembly segments began at 269 locations in the state, the officials said.

Exit polls have predicted a comfortable win for the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance government in the state.

Around 25,000 personnel are deployed on counting duty, an election official said, adding police have also made adequate arrangements to ensure a smooth counting process.

The polling held on Monday saw a voter turnout of 61.13 per cent, a dip from the 63.20 per cent recorded in 2014, the official said.

The highest turnout, of 83.93 per cent, was reported in the Karveer assembly seat in Kolhapur, while the lowest was in south Mumbai's upmarket Colaba area at 40.11 per cent.

In the Satara Lok Sabha bypoll, also held on Monday, the voter turnout was 67.15 per cent, the official said.

The bypoll was necessitated after NCP MP Udayanraje Bhosale quit the party and his Lok Sabha seat and joined the ruling BJP, which renominated him from the constituency.

A total of 3,239 candidates contested from the 288 seats, where the key contest was between the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP alliances.

While the tables are tilted in favour of the BJP-Sena alliance as per the exit polls, many leaders are in focus including Shiv Sena's Aaditya Thackeray, who is the first member of the Thackeray family to contest an election and a win for him could redefine the party's politics in the state.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who led the BJP campaign in the state was pitted from his home turf Nagpur South-West against Ashish Deshmukh of the Congress.

State BJP president and Cabinet minister Chandrakant Patil contested his maiden Assembly poll from Kothrud in Pune.

BJP leaders and Cabinet ministers Pankaja Munde and Sudhir Mungantiwar were also in the fray from Parli and Ballarpur seats, respectively.

From the Opposition camp, former chief ministers of Congress Ashok Chavan (Bhokar, Nanded district) and Prithviraj Chavan (Karad South, Satara district) were in the fray.

Senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is seeking another term from his home turf Baramati in Pune district.

Most exit polls, released immediately after polling ended, gave the ruling alliance a comfortable majority in the 288-member Assembly.

There were 8,98,39,600 eligible voters in the state for the Assembly polls, including 1,06,76,013 in the age group of 18 to 25 years. Nearly 6.5 lakh polling personnel were deployed at 96,661 polling booths across the state on election day.

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