West Bengal recorded heavy polling in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections till 6pm on Thursday. The average voter turnout stood at 82%.
All six constituencies saw impressive polling percentage. Raiganj recorded 79.78%, Balurghat 82.84%, Maldah North 80.67%, Maldah South 80.16%, Jangipur 76.93% and Murshidabad 82.24% voting.
In 2009, too, these constituencies recorded high turnouts – Murshidabad (88%), Balurghat (86%), Jangipur (86%), Maldah North (84%), Raiganj (81%) and Maldah South (79%).
Four constituencies of Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Alipurduar that went to the polls in the first phase a week ago had recorded 82% of polling.
In the second round, voting is being held across four districts of north Bengal — North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Maldah and Murshidabad. Muslims account for majority of voters in Maldah and Murshidabad.
The region is a traditional stronghold of the Congress, which has now been challenged by the ruling Trinamool Congress. The two parties fought the 2009 polls together, but parted ways later.
The Congress holds five of the six constituencies, while one is with Left Front partner Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Minister of state (MoS) for railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is the sitting MP from Berhampore, which is in Murshidabad and goes to polls on May 12. The Congress had won six of the 42 seats in Bengal in 2009.
High-profile candidates in the second round of polling in Bengal include Mausam Benazir Noor (Congress candidate from Maldah North seat) and President Pranab Mukherjee's son, Avijit (Congress candidate from Jangipur seat).
These elections, chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool is ready to throw a tough challenge to the Congress in the region. Her minority appeasement politics has triggered a big debate in Bengal.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which does not have a considerable presence in the state, hopes to spring a surprise.
There is a big talk that the BJP might bag an impressive vote share in Raiganj (North Dinajpur) and upset the calculations of both the Congress and the Trinamool. Deepa Dasmunshi, former Union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi's wife, is seeking reelection from the seat.
In such a scenario, CPI(M) central committee member Mohammad Selim, who is contesting the seat, may reap the benefits.
Elections will be held in the state over the next three phases on April 30 (nine seats), May 7 (six seats) and May 12 (17 seats).
Here's a map for the constituencies going to polls on Thursday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and key candiates there:
Facts and Figures