Campaigning for the fifth phase of the West Bengal assembly elections, in which 45 seats will go to polls on April 17, ended on Wednesday.
The campaigning ended at 6.30 p.m. The Election Commission has increased the silence period from 48 to 72 hours in view of the Cooch Behar killings in the fourth phase.
A total of 1.13 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes to decide the fate of 342 candidates, including Siliguri Mayor and Left Front leader Ashok Bhattacharya, state minister Bratya Basu and BJP’s Samik Bhattacharya.
Polling will be held from 7 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. at 15,789 polling stations in 16 assembly seats in North 24-Parganas, eight each in East Burdwan and Nadia, seven in Jalpaiguri, five in Darjeeling and one in Kalimpong district.
In view of the Cooch Behar killings, in which four people died in CISF firing and one man was shot dead outside a polling booth, the EC has decided to deploy at least 853 companies of central forces, an election official said.
The BJP’s star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, party chief J P Nadda and actor Mithun Chakraborty had addressed several rallies in the region, attacking the TMC over corruption charges.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, at election meetings during the day, said the BJP will not be able to win even 70 seats. She also met family members of those killed in CISF firing in Cooch Behar during the fourth phase of the elections, assuring them of a probe that will track down and bring the culprits to book.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also addressed rallies in the state on Saturday.
The TMC had won 32 seats in the 2016 assembly polls, the Left-Congress alliance 10, while the BJP had drawn a blank. Votes polled in the eight-phase assembly elections to 294 seats being held from March 27 to April 29 will be counted on May 2.
~With inputs from PTI~