The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine on Thursday raced ahead in its bid to retain power in Maharashtra by notching leads in 149 constituencies out of 288 — more than the half-way mark of 144.
The opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) nominees were lagging behind with leads in around 100 seats in the early trends of counting of votes.
The prominent names from the BJP who were leading included Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Nagpur South-West, state party chief Chandrakantdada Patil in Kothrud, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil in Shirdi, Nitesh Rane in Kankavali, Mohini Eknath Khadse in Muktainagar, Manisha Choudhary in Dahisar, Rahul Dhikle in Nashik East and Ashish Shelar in Bandra.
In an interesting development, Beed strongwoman and Minister Pankaja Munde, who was leading in Parli till the sixth round, trailed after her estranged cousin and NCP’s Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde gained lead.
Big names in Shiv Sena who were leading included Aditya Thackeray in Worli, Eknath Shinde in Kopri-Pachpakhadi, Sanjay Raymulkar in Buldana and Yamini Jadhav in Byculla.
In the Opposition NCP camp, those in the lead included Ajit Pawar in Baramati, Suman R. Patil in Tasgaon-Kavthe Mahankal, Hasan Mushrif in Kagal, Jitendra Awhad in Mumbra, Aditi S. Tatkare in Shrivardhan and Jayant Patil in Islampur.
Congress’ Leader of Opposition Vijay Wadettiwar was ahead in Brahmapuri, while state President Balasaheb Thorat in Sangamner, Dheeraj Vilasrao Deshmukh in Latur Rural, Gulabrao Patil in Sangli and Nitin Raut in Nagpur North were also in the lead.
The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) nominee Pramod alias Raju R. Patil was leading in Kalyan Rural, while Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi nominee was leading in one seat.
Besides the ruling BJP-Sena and Opposition Congress-NCP, other important parties in the fray are MNS, VBA, the Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).