Kolkata: Poling began with great enthusiasm in 56 assembly constituencies spread over seven districts in phase two of the West Bengal Assembly election on Sunday.
The voting started at 7 a.m. and would continue till 6 p.m., with nearly 1.22 crore (1,21,74,947) voters eligible to elect their nominees across 13,645 polling stations from a field of 383 candidates — 33 of them female.
Five of the constituencies are in Alipurduar district, seven in Jalpaiguri, nine in North Dinajpur, six each in Darjeeling and South Dinajpur and 12 in Malda.
The only south Bengal district with 11 constituencies going the polls in this phase is Birbhum.
In the 2011 assembly polls, then allies Trinamool and the Congress had claimed 18 seats each. while the Left Front could only get 15.
Among the LF partners, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the All India Forward Bloc won six, five and four seats respectively. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha triumphed in three and and independents in two seats.
The Trinamool is contesting in 55 seats, BJP 53, Congress 23, Left Front 34, GJM three.
A star constituency is Darjeeling district’s Siliguri, where former Indian football captain and Trinamool nominee Baichung Bhutia is pitted against ex state minister and CPI-M heavyweight Asok Bhattacharya.
Eyes will also be on Sujapur in Malda district where two relatives of late Congress stalwart A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury — affectionately called Barkatda — are locking horns.
Choudhury’s younger brother Abu Nasar Khan Choudhury, in the fray as the Trinamool nominee, is contesting against his nephew Isha Khan Choudhury, representing the Congress.
Among other notable candidates are state ministers Gautam Deb (Dabgram-Pulbari), Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury (English Bazar), Sabitri Mitra (Manikchak) — all from Trinamool Congress, and BJP’s actress candidate Locket Chatterjee (Mayureswar).
So far, voters in 49 of the total 294 constituencies have exercised their franchise on two dates — April 4 and 11 — that comprised the first phase.
West Bengal is having a staggered six-phase election. Polling for the remaining phases will be held on April 21, 25, 30 and May 5.