Eighteen of the 23 candidates contesting the January 20 Bhiwandi East Assembly by-election are independents.
On the last day of filing nominations on Saturday, 19 candidates submitted their papers.
The seat was vacated by Abu Asim Azmi after he got elected from two constituencies — Mankhurd and Bhiwandi East — in the October Assembly elections.
The Congress has fielded Member of Legislative Council Muzaffar Hussain against Samajwadi Party candidate and Azmi’s son Farhaan for the January 20 by-election.
Shiv Sena’s Rupesh Mhatre, Republican Party of India’s Anantha Jadhav and Peace Party’s Jamanuddin Ansari will also be contesting the by-poll.
A close contest is expected between restaurateur Farhaan and Hussain. Both Farhaan and Hussain are not residents of Bhiwandi. While Farhaan has a plush apartment at Pali Hill in Bandra, Hussain is a resident of Mira Road.
Though a political novice, Bhiwandi voters are familiar with Farhaan as he was seen with his father during the Assembly elections last year.
A final scrutiny of the nominations will be done on Monday and candidates can withdraw their nominations on or before Wednesday.
Thane Police Commissioner Anil Dhere has issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 in the constituency in view of the by-election.
No political party or its leaders can hold any election rallies, press conference or a public gathering within 100 m of election offices in the constituency till January 24.