The district had already recorded a poll percentage above 30 till 1 p.m., said election authorities while the crucial districts of Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara in the State’s sugar belt had recorded poll per cent figures of 32, 38 and 34 respectively.
Bigwigs in Western Maharashtra who cast their votes by midday included former Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, who is contesting from South Karad and former Deputy chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, contesting from Baramati.
Other stalwarts included senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde (in his bastion Solapur) and Raju Shetti in Kolhapur whose Swabhimani Paksha is poised to give a tough fight to Congress and NCP candidates in Western Maharashtra.
While programmes designed by the Election Commission to boost voter turnout largely paid-off, missing voter names continued to bedevil voters across Pune district.
“In spite of submitting my documents and photograph on time, I did not receive my voting slip and discovered that my name was not on the voting list at the centre,” said Divya Sharma, a media professional.
“Only two out of my family of five could vote as the rest of our names were missing. It was a replay of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls for my family,” said Shantanu Deshpande, a computer engineer.
At 69.27 lakh voters, the district has the highest number of voters in the State who will decide the fate of 308 candidates in 21 Assembly segments.
“Nearly 15,000 security personnel have been deployed across 7,500-odd polling stations in the district. We hope the turnout exceeds 60 per cent till 6 p.m.,” said Pune District Collector Saurabh Rao.
Meanwhile, in a bid to boost voter turnout across the city, businesses came up with innovative ideas to snare voters.
Eateries offered discounts of 5 to 50 per cent on a dish of ‘misal-pav’ (a Maharashtrian delicacy) for those who voted.
“The low voter turnout during the Lok Sabha polls was dispiriting. This is a novel way to encourage people to come out and cast their votes,” said Laxman Katkar of Krishna Bhavan Misal in Budhwar Peth.
Niranjan Medico, a chemist shop in Narayan Peth offered a 5 per cent discount on medicines to those who showed their inked index finger.
A free car wash was offered by several car-servicing outlets across the city, while some tour operators came up with innovative plans of offering handsome discounts on domestic travel packages.
While Pune district generally remained untarnished by reports of booth capturing, incidents of coercion were reported from the village of Parewadi in Solapur’s Pandharpur township where villagers were allegedly prevented from casting their votes by toughs belonging to a certain political party.