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Voting begins for Maharashtra Assembly bypolls

Voting for the Assembly byelections to Bandra (East) in suburban Mumbai and Tasgaon Kavthe-Mahankal in Sangli district began this morning.

The polling began at 7 am on a peaceful note, according to an election official.

The battle for Bandra (East) has become a prestige issue for Shiv Sena due to the challenge posed by the party renegade-turned-Congress leader Narayan Rane on the home turf of Uddhav Thackeray.

While Sena has fielded Trupti Sawant, wife of sitting party MLA Bala Sawant, whose death necessitated the bypoll, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has nominated Siraj Khan.

For Rane, who lost last year’s Assembly elections from his home-turf of Sindhudurg district, the bypoll is a do-or-die battle to stay relevant in the state politics as the humiliating defeat has significantly eroded his standing in the party.

In the 2014 Assembly elections, Sawant had humbled BJP’s Krishna Parkar, MNS’s Shilpa Sarpotdar and Congress leader Sunil Bagdi to win the seat.

In Tasgaon-Kavthe Mahankal bypoll, Suman Patil of NCP, wife of party stalwart R R Patil whose death necessitated the bypoll, is all set to win as no other party has fielded any candidate against her as a mark of respect for the former deputy chief minister.

However, rumours are doing rounds that BJP is covertly helping Swapnil Patil, a youth BJP leader from Tasgaon, who is contesting as an independent.

Counting of votes will be done on April 15.