Vidarbha is the cotton belt of Maharashtra, which has been infamous for large number of farmer suicides for over a decade, besides the rising Naxal threat.

Polling across the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies in Vidarbha went off without a hitch on Thursday with the Maharashtra Chief Election Officer placing the turnout at a little over 62 per cent.

This is roughly six percentage points more than the 56 per cent polled in 2009, with Nagpur alone recording a jump of 16 percentage points this time around to touch 59 per cent.

Union Ministers Praful Patel (Bhandara-Gondiya) and Mukul Wasnik (Ramtek), former BJP President Nitin Gadkari and Aam Aadmi Party activist Anjali Damania (Nagpur) as well as Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar (Akola) are the key players in the fray from Vidarbha.

The 10 constituencies and their polling percentages are: Buldhana (58.66), Akola (65), Amravati (65), Wardha (61), Ramtek (62), Nagpur (59), Bhandara-Gondiya (65), Gadchiroli-Chimur (65), Chandrapur (63) and Yavatmal-Washim (60).

Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari, contesting his first-ever Lok Sabha election, said he was confident of winning from the RSS headquarters of Nagpur.

“I have been working in this area for many years and I am confidant of winning this election,” he said, after voting on Thursday.

Mr. Gadkari said that he had worked for people without thinking in terms of caste, creed and religion. “I will start campaigning for the party after a day in other parts of the country as well,” he added.

For his part, Prakash Ambedkar, who is contesting from Akola, said he preferred not to think about the results. “I have tried my best and have trust in people. I can only campaign and people will decide whom to vote.”

Mr. Ambedkar felt that worrying about results would not change anything now. “I feel relaxed. Let the counting day come and then we all will know whom people have voted,” he added.

The only Muslim candidate fielded by the Congress, Hidayat Patel, is also standing from Akola. Mr. Patel is the only Muslim fielded by the four main parties in Maharashtra — the Congress, NCP, BJP and the Shiv Sena.