Nearly nine crore people are voting to chose from 3,237 candidates for 288 Assembly seats in state elections today, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and former Chief Ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan of the Congress among the big names in play. The Maharashtra Assembly election 2019 will see the Congress-NCP attempt to unseat the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena combine. This is the first election since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP to a massive win in April-May polls. It is also the first since Rahul Gandhi stepped down as Congress President in July. triggering in-fighting in state units across the country.
The BJP and Shiv Sena are contesting 274 of the 288 seats in the Maharashtra assembly - 150 for the BJP, and 124 for the Sena - leaving 14 for smaller parties. The Congress and NCP are contesting 146 and 117, respectively, with the rest left to other allies.
Key names and election battles to look out for include Chief Minister Fadnavis, who is contesting the Nagpur (South West) seat. Earlier this month the Supreme Court directed a trial court to re-look at a 2014 complaint alleging Mr Fadnavis failed to declare criminal cases on an election affidavit. However, he has been allowed to contest this election.
The battle for the Kankavli seat will be eagerly watched since it sees Nitesh Rane of the BJP take on Satish Sawant of the Shiv Sena, who had been set to contest as an independent candidate. Nitesh Rane won this seat in 2014 on a Congress ticket.
Another anticipated battle is that between the NCP's Dhananjay Munde and his cousin Pankaja Munde of the BJP. The cousins will fight over the Parli Assembly seat.
For the Shiv Sena, this will be the first time a member of the Thackeray family contests an election. Aaditya Thackeray, 29, who has been groomed by the party as a future Chief Minister, will contest from the party stronghold of Worli.
Other key Sena candidates include Sunil Raut and Sunil Prabhu, who have been given tickets for the Vikhroli and Dindoshi Assembly constituencies respectively.
Ahead of the election, both the NCP and the Congress have battled defections and resignations. Last month the Congress lost three leaders, including Harshvardhan Patil, a cabinet minister in the previous government, in the space of 24 hours. Mr Patil, who joined the BJP, will contest from the Kothrud Assembly seat.
Another senior Congress leader, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, quit in June and was sworn-in to Chief Minister Fadnavis' cabinet the same month. He will contest the Shirdi Assembly seat.
Among other key names to look out for is that of NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who will contest the Baramati Assembly seat that he resigned from last month after he was named by the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering case.
In 2014 polls, ahead of which the major alliances splintered, the BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 122 seats. The Sena, which broke from the BJP after failed seat-sharing talks, won 63 and became reluctant post-poll allies. The Congress and the NCP won 42 and 41 seats respectively.
Election results will be declared on Thursday.
|Nagpur South West||Devendra Fadnavis||BJP|
|Malabar Hill||Mangal Prabhat Lodha||BJP|
|Shirdi||RadhaKrishna Vikhe Patil||BJP|
|Karad South||Prithviraj Chavan||Congress|
|Latur City||Amit Deshmukh||Congress|
|Solapur City Central||Praniti Shinde||Congress|
|Karjat Jamkhed||Rohit Pawar||NCP|
|Ambegaon||Dilip Walse Patil||NCP|