Maharashtra Pollsters Predict Hung Assembly

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An estimated 64 per cent of 8.53 crore voters exercised their franchise on Wednesday in Maharashtra, where pollsters projected a hung Assembly with the BJP emerging as the single largest party, but falling short of a majority in the 288-member House. 
Barring a few incidences of violence in Vidarbha and Bhiwandi near Mumbai, the voting was by and large peaceful in the western state. 
The turnout has marginally improved from the Lok Sabha polls held earlier this year, in which the state had polled 60.32 per cent.
A higher voter turnout may spell good fortunes for the BJP, which is confident of forming the next government on the strength of a full majority after remaining in opposition for nearly 15 years in Maharashtra. 
Making a difference: Female voters queue outside a polling booth in Akluj, Maharashtra
In the earlier part of day, low voter turnout had given some anxious moments to the BJP, which went solo this time after ending its 25-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena. 
However, it was in the second half that the voters began to throng the polling booths.

By 5pm, Mumbai had witnessed a voter turnout of 47 per cent. 
More than 4,000 candidates, including 276 women, are in the poll fray this time. 
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A visibly-elated state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis tried to avoid the question of seeking support from other parties, particularly the Shiv Sena, to form the government as he expressed confidence in getting a full majority. 
In fact, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray also expressed confidence in having a Sena government in the state. 
Around 66 per cent polling was reported from the Beed Lok Sabha by-poll seat on Wednesday, a senior election official said. 
Pritam, daughter of the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, is contesting from Beed, which fell vacant after the death of her father in a road accident at Delhi in June this year. 
Pritam took on former Congress minister Ashok Patil in the Lok Sabha by-poll. 
BJP candidate and incumbent MLA Pankaja, Munde's eldest daughter, was pitted against her estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde, who is the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) nominee from the Parli Assembly seat. 
In Mumbai, some of the celebrities who voted include Sachin Tendulkar, Abhishek Bachchan, and Shah Rukh Khan along with wife Gauri, Anil Kapoor with daughter Sonam, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Rekha and Anil Ambani. 
Poll percentage 
An upsurge was witnessed in the polling percentage in Mumbai (city and suburbs) where it has recorded 55 per cent polling, a senior election official said.

The highest voting percentage district- wise was recorded in Sangli at 72 per cent, while the lowest voters' turnout was recorded in Thane at 49 per cent. (With inputs from Kunal V. Shinde/Mumbai) 
  Spat continues on election day 
The verbal duel between former allies Shiv Sena and BJP continued even on the day of polling.

The latest episode was triggered by Uddhav Thackeray's interview in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana' which had references of Modi as an ordinary person.
Saamana had only published a teaser of the interview on Tuesday while the full version was published on Wednesday. 
Reacting to Uddhav's remarks, BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari said that when their party was not demanding respect from Sena, they would not accept humiliation. 
After casting his vote, Uddhav clarified: "I still have high regards for PM Modi. The ordinary person reference was made to emphasise that voters had the power to elect a person who had humble beginning as the PM, then even I could aspire to be the CM. It was not made to insult Modi."
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray (centre) was accompanied by his wife Rashmi and Shiv Sena youth wing chief Aditya Thackeray