After a heated campaigning, voting for the second phase of elections in 30 seats in West Bengal and 39 seats in Assam is taking place on Thursday amid high security. All eyes are on Nandigram, where West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is taking on her protégé-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
More than 7.3 million voters will exercise their franchise today where 345 candidates are contesting the polls.
In West Bengal, the districts of South 24 Parganas, Bankura, Paschim Medinipur and Purba Medinipur are slated to vote today with Covid-19 safety protocols in place.
Out of the 171 candidates in the fray, 152 are men and the remaining are women. It means only 11% of the candidates are women.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to vote in large numbers and 'strengthen the festival of democracy' as voting began for the second phase of elections in West Bengal and Assam.
With allegations made by TMC and BJP, warning that external forces could create disturbance today, the Election Commission has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in and around all polling stations in Nandigram and East Midnapore district in West Bengal. The commission has also deployed additional security forces. In Nandigram alone, where there are 355 polling booths, around 22 companies of central forces have been deployed.
Apart from Nandigram, another high-profile seat is the Debra constituency where BJP has fielded former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh against Trinamool Congress' Humayun Kabir, also an ex-IPS officer.
In the penultimate phase, Assam will see voting for 345 candidates in 39 constituencies across 13 districts today. The main contest is seen to be between the alliances led by BJP and Congress.