Polling in nine parliamentary constituencies began peacefully in West Bengal in the third phase of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections in the state on Wednesday.
On an average 81.35% voting was recorded in nine constituencies of Howrah, Uluberia, Serampore, Hooghly, Arambagh, Burdwan(East), Burdwan-Durgapur, Bolpur and Birbhum.
Among the candidates are BJP's Bappi Lahiri, journalist-turned politician Chandan Mitra and actor George Baker, who carry the hopes of the party leadership to score big for the first time in the state.
While most poll analysts rule out the BJP's outright win in any of the nine seats, they all agree on an increase in vote share.
Among Trinamool Congress candidates are sitting MPs
Satabdi Roy, Kalyan Banerjee and Sultan Ahmed besides Prasun Banerjee, a former India soccer player.
It is a battle for the CPI-M to hold on to the four seats among the nine which it had won the last time.
Congress candidate Abdul Mannan is also in fray.
There are also 13 women contestants in the election.
Arambagh constituency has the highest number of polling stations: 2,053, and Uluberia the lowest with 1,788.
The Saradha ponzi scam – which defrauded lakhs of voters in these constituencies – have dominated the campaigning with opposition parties trying to pin down the Trinamool government of Mamata Banerjee for failing to stop the scam.
Meanwhile, Trinamool candidate from Birbhum constituency Satabdi Roy apologised for remarks she made during a poll campaign in the area recently.
"I'm extremely sorry for what I have said during my poll campaign, if it was really in violation of the model code of conduct," Roy said in a message to state CEO Sunil Gupta on Tuesday night.
The Election Commission issued a show-cause notice to Roy, who during campaigning at Mohammad Bazar in her constituency, allegedly promised to give priority in development to the areas which would give her maximum support, inviting charge of violation of model code of conduct by opposition parties.
(With inputs from PTI)
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(With inputs from agencies)