288 candidates' fates sealed

Millions cast ballots amid bullets, clashes

288 candidates' fates sealed


 Voters wait outside a polling booth to cast their votes for the state assembly elections, in Mumbai on Tuesday. PTI Photo
The two firing incidents were reported in the Naxal-hit Gadchiroli distirct, where Maoists had ambushed a special force patrol and killed 17 commandos last week.

The poll, first after the April-May 2009 general elections, has sealed the fate of candidates in 288 assembly constituencies. The opinion polls have given the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance an advantage over its rival, the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party  combine.

According to Director-General of Police in charge of elections Anami Roy, the polling in the state was by and large peaceful. The reports of firing came from Kasansur and Bonde villages in Gadchiroli, but there was no casualty.

“There has been no exchange of fire between Naxals and policemen,” Roy said. He denied media reports about a police team coming under Naxal attack in Gadchiroli. “At Kasansur and Bonde, villagers heard firing shots following which they complained to the police. The villagers claimed that the Naxals opened fire. That is all,” he said.
After firing was reported in Bonde village, reinforcements were rushed by a helicopter. Contingents of Central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the Naxal-hit Gadchiroli and Chandrapur districts of Vidarbha region to thwart any attempt by Maoists to disrupt the election process.

Over 1.29 lakh state police and Central paramilitary forces were deployed across the State to ensure fair and peaceful poll.

In Mumbai, octogenarian Sena supremo Bal Thackeray cast his vote in Bandra along with son Uddhav. He had asked the people to turn out in large numbers and vote for the Sena-BJP combine, without getting swayed by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena of his estranged nephew Raj Thackeray.

On his part, NCP president Sharad Pawar, who cast his ballot in Baramati, said there would be no truck with the MNS.

His nephew and NCP leader Ajit Pawar had said last week that his party was open to alliance with any party, including the MNS, to form a government in the State.

Contenders for CM post

Meanwhile, if the Congress-NCP wins elections, then the name of former chier minister and now Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, is doing rounds for the chief ministership. So also is Union Minister of State and former Mumbai Congress chief Gurudas Kamat, as well as Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

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