one-fourth of Maharashtra's population, mostly in rural and
semi-rural areas, will elect new representatives for 27 Zilla
Parishads and 305 Panchayat Samitis, polling for which began
Tuesday morning amidst tight security, an official said.
Voting began on a peaceful note at 7.30 a.m. though crowds were
not evident at many booths in view of the severe cold wave
conditions sweeping most parts of the state.
Polling will continue till 5.30 p.m. in all areas, barring
Gadchiroli, where it will close at 3.30 p.m.
Nearly 3.89 crore voters shall elect their new representatives for
1,624 Zilla Parishad seats and 3,218 Panchayat Samiti seats, for
which 7,116 and 13,473 candidates are in the fray respectively,
said State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan.
The State Election Commission has set up 59,914 polling stations
with 1.38 lakh electronic voting machines.
Of the total, around 7,500 polling stations are considered
sensitive, including those in Maoist-infested Gadchiroli district
of eastern Maharashtra, for which special security arrangements
are in place.
Only Gadchiroli will have a two-phased election. While areas like
Korchi, Kurkheda, Desaiganj, Aarmori, Gadchiroli, Dhanora,
Charmoshi and Mulchera shall vote Tuesday, other areas like Aheri,
Etapalli, Bhamragad and Sironcha shall go to polls Feb 12.
The elections to 10 top municipal corporations -- Mumbai, Thane,
Ulhasnagar, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Solapur, Akola,
Amravati and Nagpur -- are scheduled for Feb 16.
The election commission has directed the state government to
declare holidays Feb 7 and Feb 16 for polling.
Counting of votes shall be taken up simultaneously Feb 17 onwards.