Kolkata, May 12 (IANS) Amid heightened security, voting began for eight parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Sunday.
The polling, which started at 7 am, will continue till 6 pm.
The eight constituencies — Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram (ST), Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur (SC) — are spread over East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and part of East Burdwan districts.
In the general elections five years back, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress had won all the eight seats.
An electorate of around 1,33,56,964 will decide the fate of 83 candidates — 78 male and five female — in the eight seats.
Bengali film star cum incumbent MP Deepak (Dev) Adhikari, veteran leader and Rajya Sabha member Manas Bhunia, former Union Minister of State for Rural Development Sisir Adhikari, state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee (all Trinamool) and BJP state President Dilip Ghosh and former IPS Bharati Ghosh (BJP) are among the star candidates.
The Ghatal seat is grabbing a lot of attention as Trinamool’s sitting MP Deepak Adhikari is being challenged by BJP’s candidate Bharati Ghosh.
A total of 770 companies of central forces are being deployed in the state’s tribal heartland as well as the seats in Junglemahal, once a hotbed of Maoists, where stringent security arrangements are in place to ensure fool-proof polls.
According to an analysis done by the West Bengal Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, 16 candidates have assets worth over Rs 1 crore and 28 declared criminal cases against themselves.
The seventh and final phase of polling in the state will be held on May 19.
The votes will be counted on May 23.