With ruling Left Front facing its toughest challenge to retain power in 35 years, a high voltage campaigning for first phase of West Bengal Assembly polls ended on Saturday evening in six districts marked by war of words between the Left and Trinamool Congress-Congress combine.
The fate of 364 candidates including ten ministers in the Left Front government will be decided in the polling which will take place in 54 Assembly segments spread over six North Bengal districts in this phase on Monday (April 18).
The three constituencies in the Darjeeling Hills will go to polls in the first phase with three hill parties - Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the GNLF and the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League having campaigned in full force.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and senior party leader Pranab Mukherjee hit the campaign trail jointly in North Bengal yesterday.
Gandhi tore into the Left, blaming it for Bengal's under-development.
Promising that the Congress-Trinamool alliance would make Bengal an advanced state if voted, the Congress president alleged Left Front in its 34-year rule had made the state backward in every district.
Campaigning for votes ended for the polls in 54 constituencies spread over six north Bengal districts -Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Coochbehar, North Dinjapur, South Dinajpur and Malda.
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi addressed campaign meeting at Matigara-Naxalbari, Malbazar and Malda on Thursday criticising the Left Front for its "misrule" and said this election will bring an end to the CPI(M)-led government.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani also addressed a campaign meeting in Jalpaiguri district on Thursday. BJP leaders Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley were among the national-level BJP leaders who addressed campaign meetings.
Advani said if people of Bengal were for a good government they should vote for BJP candidate.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee led from the front as the outcome of polls in North Bengal would have a bearing on her party's prospects and help in shake off the tag that her party remained strong only in South Bengal.