Westerm Maharashtra, Marathwada and northern Maharashtra will pick 25 leaders to represent their constituencies in the 15th Lok Sabha on Thursday in the second phase of polling. Mahara-shtra has a total of 48 seats.
Ballots cast in this phase will determine which of the two formidable alliances — Congress-NCP and BJP-Shiv Sena — would hold sway. It will also help the alliances formulate their strategies for the Assembly elections later this year.
In the first phase, polling was held in 10 segments in Vidarbha and three in Marathwada.
The NCP has fielded 13 candidates, most of them for seats in western Maharashtra, where it has been the front-runner in the last two elections. The Congress, counting on Marathwada and northern Maharashtra to offer a lead, has fielded 11 candidates. In the 2004 elections, the BJP-Sena combine had bagged maximum seats from Marathwada.
This phase will decide the fatesof a large number of veterans: NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Madha), Congress leaders and Union ministers Sushilkumar Shinde (Solapur) and A.R. Antulay (Raigad), Ramdas Athwale (Republican Party of India, Shirdi) and BJP national general secretary Gopinath Munde (Beed).
This phase will also launch the generation next of political families and witness two descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji fight a different battle. Pawar's only daughter Supriya Sule is confident of winning from Baramati while industry minister Narayan Rane's elder son Nilesh is debuting from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg.
NCP’s Sambhajiraje Chhat-rapati, who belongs to Shivaji's family, will face a tough fight in Kolhapur, while another NCP royal Udayanraje Bhosale, the 13th direct descendant of Shivaji, is likely to have a smoother ride in Satara.