West Bengal is voting today in the fifth phase of the assembly elections held amid an alarming surge of coronavirus cases across the country.
45 seats are going to polls in the biggest of the state's eight-phased elections. Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and a part of Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Purba Bardhaman will vote today in which a total of 319 candidates, including 39 women are contesting.
Bengal has already voted for 135 seats and after today's voting, results for more than half of its 294 seats will be sealed. High-profile contestants include the Trinamool's Bratya Basu, Gautam Deb and Siddiqullah Chowdhury, and the BJP's Jagannath Sarkar - one of five MPs nominated by the party.
The BJP is contesting all 45 seats. The ruling Trinamool will contest 42 with three given to allies Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The Congress will contest only 11, with alliance partner CPM contesting 25 and the rest given to smaller parties.
On Friday evening, the Election Commission ordered a 72-hour 'silence period', instead of the usual 48 hours, ahead of the remaining rounds of voting. The poll body cited the pandemic and added that election rallies and meetings - on days when campaigning is allowed - would be banned between 7 pm and 10 am.
In the build-up to polling both Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh received 24-hour campaign bans. Ms Banerjee was banned over comments relating to Muslim votes while Mr Ghosh was banned for comments on the Cooch Behar violence.
A total of 1,071 companies of central forces for ensuring a peaceful election. In addition to this, 15,790 state police officials will also be on duty.
Here are the LIVE updates of Bengal elections today:
Apr 17, 2021 07:00 (IST)
Bengal assembly elections: Voting begins
Voting begins in Bengal in fifth and biggest phase.