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    Maharashtra to vote in critical civic polls

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    The stage is set for the second phase of elections to civic bodies in Maharashtra on Tuesday in what has been dubbed a ‘mini assembly’ poll and a referendum on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

    A total of 10 major civic bodies, including the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation and of Thane, Pune and Nashik, plus 11 Zilla Parishads and 118 Panchayat Samitis shall vote on Tuesday, State Election Commissioner J.S. Saharia told the media on Monday.

    “The election machinery is fully geared up and we shall ensure free and fair voting across the state,” Saharia said, urging the electorate to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
    _314f23e2-b61c-11e6-b935-511f3378ef5eAt total of 3.77 crore voters shall decide the fate of 17,331 candidates for 5,512 seats up for grabs, including 1,268 in 10 municipal corporations, 2,956 in 11 Zilla Parishads and 1,288 seats in 118 Panchayat Samitis.

    A total of 43,160 polling booths have been set up across the state which will be manned by around 2.76 lakh officials.

    In Mumbai, there will be 7,304 polling booths for the 9.20 million strong electorate. They will vote from among 2,275 candidates vying for the 227 seats in the BMC, the country’s biggest and richest civic body.

    The polling in the first phase across Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis was completed peacefully on February 16. The results for both the phases shall be declared on Thursday.

    The major parties in the fray include the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena, contesting against each other, the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

    Besides, the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and several regional and local parties have put up candidates.

    All the parties have been engaged in a high-decibel, no-holds barred, vicious campaign, hurling allegations and counter-allegations in the past few weeks.

    The campaign saw the participation of union ministers for the BJP, top leaders like Fadnavis, Uddhav Thackeray, Ashok Chavan, Sharad Pawar, Raj Thackeray, Abu Asim Azmi and the Owaisi brothers

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