Polling began Monday morning for 288 Assembly constituencies in Maharashtra, a key state which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting to retain.

Voting which began at 7 am will continue till 6 pm. The counting of votes in the state will be conducted along with Haryana on October 24 and the results will be declared on the same day.

In Maharashtra, the ‘Mahayuti’ alliance of BJP, Shiv Sena and smaller parties is up against the ‘Maha-agadhi’ led by the Congress and the NCP.

A total of 8,98,39,600 people, including 4,28,43,635 women, are eligible to vote in the state.

As many as 3,237 candidates, including 235 women, are contesting in 288 seats and 96,661 polling booths are in place with 6.5 lakh staff for the voting exercise.

Out of 288 assembly seats in Maharastra, the BJP, which is seeking a second straight term under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, is contesting 164 seats, which include candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while Sena has fielded candidates on 126 seats.

The Congress is contesting on 147 seats while ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has fielded 121 candidates. Among other parties, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), led by Raj Thackeray, has fielded 101 candidates, the CPI 16, the CPM 8. The BSP has fielded candidates in 262 constituencies. A total of 1400 Independents are also in the poll arena.

Tight security arrangements have been made with deployment of more than three lakh personnel from state police and central forces in Maharashtra. Special security arrangements have been made for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas in Gadchiroli and Gondia.

In the 2014 Maharashtra assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party with 122 seats and the Shiv Sena, which also fought separately, secured 63. The Congress had bagged 42 and the NCP 41 seats.

In the April-May Lok Sabha elections this year, the BJP-Sena alliance won 41 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, while the Congress won one and NCP four seats.

Prominent candidates in the fray are Chief Minister Fadnavis and his predecessors from Congress, Ashok Chavan, who is in fray from Bhokar in Nanded district, and Prithviraj Chavan seeking re-election from Karad South in Satara district.

Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray, is contesting from Worli in Mumbai. The 29-year-old is the first from the Thackeray family to make debut in electoral politics.