Anil Ambani, Rahul Bose, Chavan, Sachin among early voters

Actor Rahul Bose shows his finger marked with indelible ink after casting his vote for the state assembly elections, at Bandra in Mumbai on Tuesday. PTI

Governor Jamir exercised his franchise at a polling station in the Raj Bhavan in south Mumbai, while Anil Ambani, sporting a green and grey jogging suit, turned up at a polling station in Colaba, also in south Mumbai, to cast his vote.

Industrialists Adi Godrej and Shekhar Bajaj and Police Commissioner D. Shivanandan also voted early, while actor and social activist Rahul Bose exercised his franchise in northwest Mumbai. Chief Minister Chavan cast his vote in Nanded.

Early risers turned up to vote in several parts of the state, including the towns and villages bordering the pristine beaches of coastal Konkan, the misty mountainous regions of western Maharashtra, the plains of Marathwada and North Maharashtra and the dense Maoist-infested jungles in eastern parts of the state.

Suspected Maoists fired a few rounds shortly before polling began in Gadchiroli district, where the rebels had killed 17 policemen last week, a senior police officer said.

"At around 6.30 a.m., before polling started, a few rounds of gunfire were heard in Kasanpur village of Aheri assembly constituency," Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police S. Jayakumar said.

The shots came from far and there were no casualties of any kind in the incident, he added. Nearly 76 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in 84,136 polling stations across the state to elect 288 representatives from 3,559 contenders, including 211 women.

In Worli, Mumbai, Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the late Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pramod Mahajan cast her vote. She is contesting on a BJP ticket from Ghatkopar suburb in northeast Mumbai.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state chief R.R. Patil voted in Sangli, while union minister Sushilkumar Shinde, accompanied by his daughter -- who is contesting from Solapur -- also cast thier votes.

Amit Deshmukh, son of union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, cast his vote in Latur, where he is a candidate.

Shiv Sena legislator and contestant Vaibhav Naik, arrested for allegedly distributing cash for votes, was released on bail in the morning to enable him to cast his vote in Kudal in the coastal Konkan region.

While eight mainstream, recognised parties are in the fray, the others include small, regional groups and independents -- including many rebels challenging the prospects of official candidates.

Coming five months after the Lok Sabha elections that brought the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance to power for a second term at the centre, the mood is quite upbeat in the ruling Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government in the state, which is hoping for a hat-trick. The other member of the alliance is the NCP.

The opposition Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine is making an all-out attempt to dislodge the Congress-NCP and usher in what it calls 'Shiv-Shahi' (Shivaji's Rule).

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