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 7 AM amid tight security and end at 6 PM, 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 a Congress bastion.
As many as 1,33,00,978 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the seven Lok Sabha seats, the officials said.
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.
A total of 5,000 police personnel have been deployed for election duty, he said.
Mock polling will be conducted at 6.15 AM in the presence of representatives of the candidates in the fray before actual voting begins, the officials said.
Gadkari, along with his family members, is expected to cast his vote at a polling booth in the Mahal area at around 9.30 AM.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)