High-pitched campaigning for 31 West Bengal assembly seats going to the polls in the second part of the first phase on April 11, which will decide the fate of some top Opposition leaders ended on Saturday.
The 31 seats are spread across West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan districts where altogether 163 candidates, including 21 women are in the fray.
Voting will be held from 7 am to 6 pm and 70 lakh voters will exercise their franchise on the day, they said.
West Bengal Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, a five-time MLA from Narayangarh seat, is the most high-profile candidate in this phase. Senior state Congress leader Manas Bhuniya, whose party is jointly fighting with Left Front against the ruling Trinamool Congress, is once again putting up a fight from Sabang constituency, where a Trinamool Congress worker was lynched allegedly by Congress and CPI(M) supporters. 91-year-old Gyan Singh Sohanpal, the senior most member in the Assembly, is in the fray again from Kharagpur Sadar seat. Fondly called 'Chacha', Sohanpal is pitted against BJP state president Dilip Ghosh. Two newbies - Bengali film actor Soham Chakraborty and Colonel (retired) Diptanshu Chaudhury, who had fought in the Kargil War, are trying their luck in politics on Trinamool Congress and BJP tickets from Barjora seats in Bankura and Asansol South seats respectively. Star campaigners in this phase included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Congress Vice president Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Power minister Piyush Goel, actress-turned-Congress leader Nagma and Minister of State for Urban Development and Asansol MP Babul Supriyo. For ruling TMC, party supremo Mamata Banerjee, who is the face of the party has been campaigning extensively daily. Polling will be held at 8,465 polling stations amid tight security. Central Armed Police Forces have been mandated the responsibility of handling situation inside the booths, while the state police forces are involved in other jobs like maintaining queues and managing crowds.