All arrangements have been made for the first phase of polling Thursday in seven Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, election officials said Wednesday.
Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Hansraj Ahir are among those in fray in these seats in Vidarbha region, which will see a direct fight between the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and the Congress-NCP-led combine.
Polling will begin at 7am amid tight security and end at 6pm, said officials Wednesday.
Security has been beefed up after an IED blast Wednesday in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district, where polling will be held Thursday.
A CRPF jawan, who was escorting a polling party, was injured in the blast, police said.
Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur) and his Cabinet colleague Hansraj Ahir (Chandrapur) -- both from the BJP -- are among prominent candidates in the fray in the first phase that covers seven out of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the Vidarbha region in Eastern Maharashtra.
The constituencies going to the polls Thursday are Nagpur, Ramtek (SC), Wardha, Bhandara-Gondiya, Yavatmal-Washim, Gadchiroli-Chimur (ST) and Chandrapur.
The remaining three parliamentary seats in the region- Akola, Buldhana and Amravati - will vote in the second phase on April 18.
Maharashtra, which has 48 Lok Sabha seats, will vote in four phases.
The BJP-Sena combine had won all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Vidarbha in 2014.
A total of 116 candidates are in the fray in these seven seats, which were once Congress bastions.
As many as 1,33,00,978 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the seven Lok Sabha seats, the officials said.
In Nagpur, Mr Gadkari, the sitting BJP MP, is pitted against Congress candidate Nana Patole, while in Chandrapur, Mr Ahir's main rival is Suresh Dhanorkar of the Congress.
In Ramtek, sitting Shiv Sena MP Krupal Tumane is facing former bureaucrat Kishore Gajbhiye of the Congress.
Yavatmal is witnessing a fight between Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali and Congress leader Manikrao Thakre, while in Wardha, sitting BJP MP Ramdas Tadas is up against Charulata Tokas of the Congress.
In Bhandara-Gondiya, Nana Panchbuddhe of the NCP is taking on BJP's Sunil Mendhe.
In Gadchiroli-Chimur, sitting BJP MP Ashok Nete is locking horns with Congress candidate Namdeo Usendi.
A total of 2,037 polling centres have been set up in the Nagpur Lok Sabha Sabha constituency which has 21,26,574 voters, including 10,45,937 women and 66 of third gender.
Addressing a press conference here Tuesday, Nagpur police commissioner B K Upadhyay said tight security arrangements have been made in the city to ensure free and fair voting.
A total of 5,000 police personnel have been deployed for election duty, he said.
These include personnel from central paramilitary forces, the State Reserve Police Force, the Maharashtra police and Home Guards, the IPS officer said.
Quick Response Teams have been put on high alert to respond immediately to any situation, the police commissioner said.
Nagpur district collector Ashwin Mudgal said the local administration is fully prepared for the polls.
Mock polling will be conducted at 6.15am in the presence of representatives of the candidates in the fray before actual voting begins, the officials said.
Mr Gadkari, along with his family members, is expected to cast his vote at a polling booth in the Mahal area at around 9.30am.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat is expected to exercise his franchise at the polling booth at Bhauji Daftari School, Mahal, at around 7am.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is also expected to cast his vote in the early hours of polling in Nagpur.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi were among star campaigners who addressed rallies in Vidarbha.