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Average turnout at 44.7 per cent in 5 seats in Maharashtra till 3 pm; 38.4 per cent in Nagpur

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Nagpur, Apr 19 (PTI) Nearly 44.7 per cent of the 95 lakh eligible voters have cast their ballots till 3 pm on Friday in the five Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra where polling is underway in the first phase of the general elections, an official said.

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A snake on the premises of the KDK College here briefly disrupted polling at the booth there, said the person who rescued the reptile.

Altogether 97 candidates, including Union minister Nitin Gadkari, are in the fray in Nagpur, Ramtek (SC), Bhandara-Gondia, Chandrapur and Naxal-hit Gadchiroli-Chimur (ST) constituency, all located in eastern-most parts of the state.

The voter turnout stood at 45.88 per cent in Bhandara-Gondia till 3 pm, the official said. Chandrapur recorded a turnout of 43.48 per cent, Gadchiroli-Chimur 55.79 per cent, Nagpur 38.43 per cent and Ramtek 40.10 per cent till 3 pm, the official said.

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The average turnout in the five seats was about 44.73 per cent till 3 pm, he said.

To avoid any technical snags cropping up in Electronic Voting Machines being used in remote polling booths in Gadchiroli, three spare EVMs were dispatched by a helicopter to the Sironcha area of the district, another official said.

Polling in the 43 other Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held in four more phases later this month and in May.

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There are 95,54,667 voters in the five Lok Sabha constituencies in the Vidarbha region. Of these, 48,28,142 are male, 47,26,178 female and 347 transgender voters, an election official said.

In Nagpur, there is a direct fight between senior BJP leader Gadkari, who is seeking a third term, and Congress candidate Vikas Thakre. The high-profile constituency, which houses the RSS headquarters, has a total of 22,18,259 voters -- 11,10, 840 male, 11,07,197 female and 222 transgender persons.

Earlier in the day, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Gadkari, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit were among those who voted in Nagpur. Bhagwat cast his ballot shortly after polling began at 7 am.

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In Chandrapur, BJP candidate and Maharashtra minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is facing Congress nominee Pratibha Dhanorkar, wife of late parliamentarian Suresh Dhanorkar, who was the lone MP from the grand old party to be elected to the Lok Sabha from Maharashtra in 2019. Chandrapur has 18,36,314 voters, including 9,45,026 males and 8,91,240 females.

In Bhandara-Gondia, the BJP has fielded sitting MP Sunil Mendhe, who is pitted against Congress candidate Dr Prashant Patole. Bhandara-Gondia has a total of 18,75,106 voters (9,36,041 males, 9,39,056 females and 12 transgenders).

Two-time Lok Sabha MP of BJP, Ashok Nete, is contesting against Congress nominee Dr Namdev Kirsan in Gadchiroli-Chimur (ST), where some areas are affected by Naxal insurgency. The constituency has 16,12,930 voters (8,11,836 males, 8,01,082 females and 12 transgenders).

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In Ramtek, the fight is between Shyamkumar Barwe of the Congress and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena's candidate Raju Parwe. The constituency has a total of 20,45,717 voters (10,43,266 males, 10,02,396 females and 55 transgenders).

Five assembly segments, spread across two Lok Sabha seats, including Naxal-hit Gadchiroli-Chimur, voted between 7 am and 3 pm, unlike other areas where voters can exercise their franchise until 6 pm.

In the assembly segments of Amgaon, Armori, Gadchiroli and Aheri of Gadchiroli-Chimur Lok Sabha constituency and Arjune Morgaon in Bhandara-Gondia seat, polling was held between 7 am and 3 pm, the official said. PTI CLS RSY VT NR NR

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