Mumbai: Ex-Chief Minister Ashok Chavan's wife Ameeta, who is making her electoral debut in Maharashtra Assembly polls, and late BJP leader Gopinath Munde's daughter Pankaja Munde are among the key women legislators testing their luck this time, with the Congress firmly in the driver's seat fielding the highest number of women candidates.
Congress has fielded the highest number of women (27) candidates followed by BJP 21, NCP 16 and Shiv Sena 10 women candidates for the state Assembly polls.
In BJP's list, except sitting legislators Madhuri Misal from Parvati in Pune and Pankaja Munde Palve from Parli in Beed district, all others are new faces.
In Dahisar, BJP has fielded party corporator Manisha Chaudhari. Out of the 21 women, two have come from NCP. Bharti Lavhekar earlier with NCP is now BJP candidate from Versova in Mumbai.
While former NCP MLC Manda Mhatre is taking on Ganesh Naik of NCP in Belapur.
Congress has fielded several female legislators this time including sitting MLAs Women and Child Welfare minister Varsha Gaikwad from Dharavi, Yashomati Thakur (Teosa), Pranati Shinde (Solapur city central), Nirmala Gavit (Igatpuri) and Annie Shekhar from Colaba.
Also, Congress chose Asawari Deotale, a relative of Tourism Minister Sanjay Deotale from Warora due to which he quit the party to contest from his constituency on BJP ticket.
The new faces include corporator Sheetal Mhatre, who is also the Mumbai Mahila Congress chief from Dahisar, Maharashtra Womens' Commission head Sushiben Shah from Malabar Hill among others.
Both parties said that grassroot women activists who have been in public life for long have been chosen as candidates.
In many places, women candidates from various parties are pitted against each other.
Varsha Gaikwad of Congress is pitted against Divya Dhole of BJP in Dharavi; in Teosa, Yashomati Thakur of Congress is contesting against BJP's Nivedita Chaudhari. Praniti Shinde will take on BJP's Mohini Patki in Solapur city central.
In Dahisar, sitting Sena MLA Vinod Ghosalkar will face the combined might of Sheetal Mhatre (Congress), Manisha Chaudhari (BJP) and former Mumbai Mayor Shubha Raul, who defected from Sena to MNS in protest against Ghosalkar's renomination.
Kaij in Beed district will witness a all-women contest with BJP's Sangeeta Thambare, Namita Mundada, daughter-in-law of late Vimaltai Mundada (NCP), Shiv Sena's Kalpana Narhire and Anjali Ghadge of Congress in the fray.
Prominent among the women defectors apart from Shubha Raul is Congress leader Vasudha Deshmukh from Achalpur who is contesting as a NCP candidate. She is pitted against Surekha Thakre of Shiv Sena.