Mumbai, Mar 11 (PTI) Lok Sabha polls will be held in four phases in Maharashtra starting from the Vidarbha region on April 11, a top official said Sunday. At 48, Maharashtra sends the second largest number of MPs to Lok Sabha, after Uttar Pradesh which has total 80 constituencies.
The schedule for seven-phase Lok Sabha elections in the country, beginning April 11, was announced by the Election Commission in Delhi this evening. The counting of votes will be taken up on May 23. In Maharashtra, voting will be held on April 11 for seven seats, namely Wardha, Ramtek, Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur and Yavatmal-Washim, all in Vidarbha region.
The seats that will vote in the second phase on April 18 are Buldana, Akola, Amravati, Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur and Solapur constituencies. Most of these seats fall under Marathwada region. A total of 14 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls on April 23 during the third phase.
They include Jalgaon, Raver, Jalna, Aurangabad, Raigad, Pune, Baramati, Ahmednagar, Madha, Sangli, Satara, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Kolhapur and Hatkanangle.
The final phase of polling in Maharashtra will be held on April 29 when 17 constituencies including Nandurbar, Dhule, Dindori, Nashik, Palghar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Thane, Mumbai North, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-Central, Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai South, Maval, Shirur and Shirdi will go for polls. The total number of voters in Maharashtra, as on January 25, stood at 8,73,30,484 as against 8,07,98,823 in 2014.
The number of voters has gone up by over 65 lakh since 2014 while more than 11,000 new polling booths have been added in urban areas. Simultaneously, around 6,000 polling booths in rural areas have been cancelled. Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer Ashwani Kumar said, "this time the 11,000 new polling booths are created in urban areas because of the increasing urbanisation of the state. At the same time, we have cancelled some 6,000 polling booths in rural areas".
He said VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) machines will be in place across all Parliamentary constituencies, so that a voter can confirm whether he or she has voted for the chosen candidate. "As compared to the voters' list of 2014, the number of voters has gone up by 65,31,661. As many as 2,24,162 persons have registered with the election commission under persons with disabilities facilities," Kumar added.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has already announced that those who get registered with the PWD application of the poll watchdog will be provided a free pick and drop from their home till polling booth. The expenses would be borne by the EC. In 2014, Maharashtra recorded 62.24% voting as against 53.67% in 2009 general elections. The number of polling booths in rural areas was 61,816 in 2014, which is now reduced by 6,002 to 55,814 for general elections 2019.
On the other hand, the quantum of polling booths in urban areas, which stood at 27,663 in 2014, has gone up by 11,996 to 39,659 for upcoming polls, Kumar said, adding that around six lakh government employees are enrolled in this election. The number of first time voters in the state is 25,13,657.
"If a person is not yet registered as a voter, then ten days prior to the deadline for submission of nominations in that particular Lok Sabha constituency, that person can register oneself as a voter," Kumar said. A byelection to Katol assembly constituency in Nagpur district will be held along with the Lok Sabha polls.
The bypoll became necessary following BJP MLA Ashish Deshmukh's resignation in October last year. Deshmukh, the son of former Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ranjeet Deshmukh, had quit citing differences with the state BJP leadership.