Polling in Maharashtra begins on Thursday from 10 seats in the drought and hailstorm-hit Vidarbha region.
Ahead of the first phase, BJP's prime minister nominee Narendra Modi held a series of rallies in Vidarbha, which is plagued by farmers' suicide.
Modi, however, did not address any rally in Nagpur, from where the party's former president, Nitin Gadkari, is taking on sitting MP Vilas Muttemwar. Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Anjali Damania is also in the fray.
Despite his proximity to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (which has its headquarters in Nagpur), Gadkari is seen to have some support base among Muslims.
If betting rates are to be trusted, Gadkari has a slim edge, while Muttemwar is narrowing down the gap.
The initial excitement around Damania, who has levelled allegations of financial impropriety against Gadkari, is fading, according to punters.
There is talk that Gadkari might get support from Datta Meghe, his close friend and the Congress MP from Wardha.
Meghe's son Sagar is the Congress candidate from Wardha. His prospects apparently received a boost after the BJP fielded a relatively lesser-known Ramdas Tadas against him.
Gadkari is believed to have played his part in selecting Tadas, for whom Modi has campaigned in Wardha.
In Bhandara-Gondia, Praful Patel, the Union minister for heavy industries, is banking on a mega power plant and a BHEL unit he brought to the region.
Gadchiroli, a constituency infamous for political killings and abductions, is reeling under fear as Maoists have issued a poll boycott call.
In 2009, the Congress had won four of these 10 seats. While the Shiv Sena (3) and the BJP (2) alliance had won five seats, the Nationalist Congress Party had bagged one.
Voting across Maharashtra's 48 constituencies will be held in three phases, ending April 24.
Full Coverage: My India My Vote
Congress - Mukul Wasnik (Sitting MP)
Shiv Sena- Krupal Balaji Tumane
Congress - Vilas Muttemwar (Sitting MP)
BJP - Nitin Gadkari
AAP - Anjali Damania
NCP - Praful Patel (Sitting MP)
BJP - Nanabhau Falgunrao Patole
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