Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday 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.
"Second phase of the Assam polls takes place today. Requesting all eligible voters of this phase to strengthen the festival of democracy by exercising their franchise," the PM tweeted.
"Urging the people of West Bengal in whose seats there is polling taking place today to vote in record numbers," he said in another Tweet.
Voting began for 30 seats in West Bengal and 39 seats in Assam at 7am amid tight security and precautions in view of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
West Bengal's Nandigram, the seat from where the former allies chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari filed their nominations, also goes to poll in the second phase.
Around 650 companies of central forces have been deployed for the second phase to guard 10,620 booths across the 30 constituencies in West Bengal, according to a polling official.
As many as 171 candidates are in the fray for this phase in West Bengal, out of which 152 are men. The districts of South 24 Parganas, Bankura, Paschim Medinipur and Purba Medinipur will go to polls on Thursday.
In Assam, over 7.3 million voters will decide the fates of 345 candidates (26 women) in 13 districts in Phase 2.
This is the second set of assembly elections during the pandemic. Bihar was the first state to go to polls after the pandemic began in March last year.