Kolkata, April 11 (IANS) Amid great enthusiasm and long queues outside booths, polling began in 31 constituencies spread over three districts in part two of the opening phase of the West Bengal assembly elections on Monday.
Thirteen of the constituencies are in West Midnapore and nine each are in Bankura and Burdwan.
An electorate of nearly 70 lakh (69,79,788), including 33,68,311 females and 50 third genders, are eligible to choose their representatives from a field of 163 candidates. Twenty one of the contestants are women.
Voting will be held across 8,465 polling stations including two auxiliary stations amid high security.
The Trinamool, the LF-Congress combine and the BJP are locking horns in all the seats.
Among the LF constituents, the CPI-M has put up 19 candidates, followed by the Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party, All India Forward Bloc and the Democratic Socialist Party (Prabodh Chandra) in one each. The Congress is in the race in eight constituencies.
Other outfits like Bahujan Samaj party and the Shiv Sena have also fielded a number of candidates.
In the 2011 assembly polls, the Trinamool Congress had bagged 17 and its then ally Congress three of the seats now going for the balloting. The Left Front, then in power, won the remaining 11.
The star candidates in this round include CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra (Narayangarh), state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh (Kharagpur Sadar), former Pradesh Congress president Manas Bhunia (Sabang) and 91 year old Congress nominee Gyan Singh Sohanpal (Kharagpur Sadar).
Providing the glam touch is Bengali film actor Soham Chakraborty, who has thrown his hat into the ring from Bankura district’s Barjora constituency on a Trinamool ticket.
Voters in 18 constituencies — six in West Midnapore, nine in Purulia and three in Bankura — exercised their franchise on the first polling day on April 4. That was part one of the first phase.
Polling for the remaining phases will be held on April 17, 21, 25, 30 and May 5.