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Lok Sabha polls: 97 candidates in fray for five phase-1 seats in Maharashtra

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NewsDrum Desk
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Mumbai, Mar 30 (PTI) A total of 97 candidates are in the fray for five Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra where polling will be held in the first phase on April 19, Chief Electoral Officer S Chokalingam said on Saturday.

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He also said cash, liquor, drugs and freebies cumulatively valued at Rs 342.29 crore had been seized in the state since March 1, while 557 weapons without licenses were confiscated and preventive action under CrPC taken against 27,685 persons since the model code of conduct came into force.

Saturday was the last of withdrawing nominations, and the day saw 13 candidates dropping out of the poll contest. Only in Nagpur and Chandrapur, nominations of all 26 and 15 candidates, respectively, were found to be valid after scrutiny.

The other three seats that will vote in the first phase are Ramtek (Scheduled Caste), Bhandara-Gondiya and Gadchiroli-Chimur (Scheduled Tribe). All five seats in the first phase are in the state's Vidarbha region.

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Only in Ramtek (SC), the main contestants are from the Congress and the Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The remaining four seats will see fights between the grand old party and the BJP.

Addressing a press conference here, Chief Electoral officer (CEO) S Chokalingam said, "There are 95,54,667 voters in these five constituencies, comprising 48,28,142 males, 47,26,178 females and 347 transgender persons. A total of 10,652 polling stations have been set up." In Ramtek (SC), Raju Parve (Shiv Sena), Shyam Barve (Congress) and Sandeep Meshram (Bahujan Samaj Party) are in the fray, he said, adding there are 13 candidates in the fray from unrecognised parties and 12 independents.

The candidature of Congress' Rashmi Barve was rejected during scrutiny after her caste validity certificate was declared invalid a day after she filed her nomination.

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In Nagpur, the nominations of all 26 candidates were found in order, with the main fight being between Union minister and BJP heavyweight Nitin Gadkari and Congress' sitting MLA Vikas Thakare. Yogesh Lanjewal of the BSP is the third candidate, while other contestants include 10 independents and 13 from unrecognised parties.

In Bhandara-Gondiya, sitting BJP MP Sunil Mendhe will take on Congress' Prashant Padole. There are four candidates from unrecognised parties and 11 independents. There are 18 candidates in the fray after four withdrew.

In Gadchiroli-Chimur (ST), BJP's sitting MP Ashok Nete is pitted against Kirsan Namdeo of the Congress, while Yogesh Gonnade of BSP is the third candidate. There are four candidates from unrecognised parties and three independents. Two candidates withdrew their nominations, leaving 10 contestants in the fray.

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Chandrapur will see a direct fight between Sudhir Mungantiwar of BJP and Congress' sitting MLA Pratibha Dhanorkar, the wife of Suresh Dhanorkar. who died last year. He was the sole winner for the Congress from the state in the 2019 polls.

In Chandrapur, there are nine candidates from unrecognised parties and three independents. In all, there are 15 contestants.

"The nomination process for the second phase of polls for eight seats in Marathwada and Vidarbha began on March 28," Chokalingam said.

"There are 1656 flying squad teams and 2096 static surveillance teams. A total of 241 star campaigners of different parties have been given the nod in the state," the official informed. PTI MR BNM

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