Curtains down on Maharashtra poll campaign

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Mumbai:  The high-pitch campaign for the coming Maharashtra Assembly elections, which saw Shiv Sena and MNS fighting for the same political space and the ruling Congress-NCP aiming a hat-trick, ended on Sunday.

An electorate of 7,56,34,525 will decide the fate of 3,559 candidates, including 211 women. There are 1,820 Independents, mostly rebels, in the fray.

The state goes to polls on Tuesday under the shadow of the gruesome Naxal attack in Gadchiroli district where 17 policemen were killed in an ambush.

Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which polled over 12 lakh votes in the Lok Sabha elections in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik, is seen as a major factor likely to influence the state politics.

Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, who toured the state highlighting suicides by farmers and the government's failures in power sector, was forced to change his campaign from development issues to the 'Marathi Manoos' agenda.

Raj Thackeray in his meetings attacked the Opposition, especially Shiv Sena saying that by and large they had failed to corner the government on its failures.

The polls, being held after the Lok Sabha elections in May this year where the Congress performed impressively going past the 200-seat mark, have enthused the party in the state to go for a hat-trick.

The Congress has been ruling the state for the last 10 years in alliance with the NCP.

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