With most exit polls predicting a return of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena alliance for the second consecutive time, counting of votes for the Maharashtra assembly elections began at 8 am today. Led by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP and its smaller allies had fought from 164 seats while the key ally Shiv Sena had fielded 124 candidates as part of a seat-sharing deal in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. Pitched against the ‘Mahayuti’ or grand alliance is the ‘maha-aghadi’ (front) led by the Congress and NCP. Also in the fray are 101 candidates of the Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
While canvassing for votes, the BJP had kept scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir as one of its main poll planks while the Congress tried to woo voters by raking up the issue of economic slowdown and unemployment.