A total of 3,239 candidates are in the fray for the October 21 assembly elections in Maharashtra for the 288 seats up for grabs where the BJP-led NDA alliance and the Congress-NCP combine are locked in keen contests marked by defections, rebellions and one-upmanships.
The Election Commission had received 5543 applications for all the 288 segments, an official said on Monday, adding that 3239 nominees are left in the race after withdrawals and rejection of 800 applications due to technical errors.
The official said more than 15 candidates are in the race in 34 constituencies, prompting the poll body to allocate additional Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to accommodate all the nominees.
Unlike previous polls, rebellions have hit all the parties, especially the ruling BJP, after allotment of tickets.
The BJP leadership tried hard to convince dissenters to withdraw from the fray against the official candidates of the party.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had issued a warning that the rebels would have no place in the alliance if they don't fall in line.
While only three contestants are in the poll arena from Chiplun seat in Ratnagiri district which is the lowest number in the state, the highest number of candidates at 38 are vying to win Nanded South constituency in Marathwada region.
In Chiplun, Shekhar Nikam of the NCP, Sadanand Chavan of the Sena and Sachin Mohite of the BSP are in the fray.
In Nanded South, Rajashree Patil of the Sena and Mohan Ambarde of the Congress are main contestants.
In politically-sensitive Thane district neighbouring Mumbai, 213 candidates are left in the contest for the total 18 seats.
In Marathwada region, 528 candidates withdrew their nominations on the last day, leaving 679 contestants to slug it out in 46 constituencies spread across eight districts.
In Nashik district, a total of 148 candidates are in the fray for the 15 seats.
In Amravati district in east Maharashtra, altogether 109 nominees remained in the contest after 42 candidates backed off.
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Among prominent candidates in the poll arena is chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who led the BJP campaign in the state, who is squaring off from his home turf Nagpur South-West against Ashish Deshmukh of the Congress.
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil is contesting his maiden assembly poll from Kothrud in Pune.
BJP leaders and Cabinet ministers Pankaja Munde and Sudhir Mungantiwar are also in the fray from Parli and Ballarpur seats, respectively.
Another major battle is playing out in Worli assembly segment in Mumbai, where Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray is making his debut in electoral politics.
Aaditya has become the first Thackeray in the clan to contest elections.
From the Opposition camp, former chief ministers of Congress Ashok Chavan (Bhokar, Nanded district) and Prithviraj Chavan (Karad South, Satara district) are in the fray.
Senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is seeking another term from his home turf Baramati in Pune district.
The 2019 assembly elections – the first major political contest after the Lok Sabha outing of summer – are characterised by many political undertones.
While the BJP and the Sena are vying for supremacy in the number game, the Opposition Congress and NCP, which are hit by defections, are fighting to make a comeback to power.
Other small players vying for the spoils are the MNS of Raj Thackeray, AIMIM, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna to name a few.