The hectic campaign for the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections at 10 seats in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra ended today.
There are 201 candidates in fray for the April 10 polls, the highest being in Nagpur (33 nominees). The other constituencies are - Ramtek (23 candidates), Bhandara-Gondia (26), Gadchiroli (11), Chandrapur (18), Akola (7), Amravati (19), Buldana (17) Wardha (21) and Yavatmal-Washik (26).
Nearly 1.65 crore voters will exercise their franchise including the highest number of 18,52,321 electorate in the region from Nagpur.
Political heavy weights in the fray include Union Heavy Industries Minister and NCP leader Praful Patel (Bhandara), former BJP national president Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur), seven term Congress MP and former Minister Vilas Muttemwar (Nagpur), All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary and former minister Mukul Wasnik, two sitting Congress ministers Shivajirao Moghe (Yavatmal) and Sanjay Deotale (Chandrapur).
AAP's veteran leader Wamanrao Chatap (Chandrapur) and Anjali Damania are also among the prominent faces. Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of great Dalit leader Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, is contesting from Akola constituency. BJP-Shiv Sena alliance's sitting MPs Hansraj Ahir (Chandrapur), Anandrao Adsul (Amravati), Sanjay Dhotre (Akola) and Bhawana Gawali (Yavatnmal) are also in fray.
The new faces in Congress include Dr Usendi (Gadchiroli) and Sagar Meghe (Wardha), Moghe and Deotale.
Navneet Kaur Rana is also the first timer contesting from Amravati on NCP ticket. The BSP has picked up builder Gunwant Deopare (Amravati) and academician Mohan Gaikwad (Nagpur).
Barring BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, no top party leader came for campaigning in the region.
Modi addressed four election meetings in Wardha, Amravati, Akola and Chandrapur and participated in 'Chai par Charcha' with farmers in Yavatmal. The Congress campaign was led by Sonia Gandhi, who addressed a joint rally for Muttemwar and Wasnik at Chikhali in eastern part of city, while Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited Wardha, Yavatmal and Wadsa (Gadchiroli).
BSP supremo Mayawati also addressed a meeting in Amravati for all her party nominees. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also campaigned in Vidarbha.