Skipping their afternoon siesta, which they consider precious, voters in Pune came to the polling booths in large numbers, recording 53.55% turnout in Pune and 67% in Pune Pimpri-Chinchwad.
In 2012, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad recorded 50.92% and 52% turnout, respectively.
The higher turnout has triggered talks of change in the two places. However, all political parties claimed that they will benefit from the higher polling percentage.
According to India Today-Axis exit poll, BJP is likely to emerge as winners in Pune with NCP is likely to bag second spot.
After BJP challenged others with its high-decibel campaigns, the polls became even crucial for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as it fought to retain its last bastion in urban Maharashtra. Having lost power at the Centre and state in 2014, the NCP had to fight to maintain hold over Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations, two civic bodies with the total budget of Rs9,200 crore and ruled by the Sharad Pawar-led party at present.
Last week, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had to suffer some embarrassment after his public meeting scheduled in the afternoon barely attracted people, forcing him to cancel it in the last moment. Many said that Puneites preferred to skip the rally in the afternoon, which is traditionally siesta time.
Polling in the two cities was peaceful except for a handful of incidents that includes a scuffle between BJP and NCP workers in Pimpri. Many voters found their names missing from the electoral rolls, but this had also come down from the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when more than one lakh voters could not vote as their names were missing from the list.
Discounts by restaurants, scratch coupons offering petrol rebates or free movie tickets that the election commission gave away increased the enthusiasm among voters.
In most wards, contests were witnessed between the BJP, NCP, Congress, MNS and Shiv Sena . To campaign for their respective party candidates, senior leaders of all the parties including Fadnavis, Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeay, Ashok Chavan and Raj Thackeray campaigned in the city.