A number of high-voltage battles are on the cards in the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal as two popular Bengali actresses set their feet on the political turf for the first time, while a number of hopefuls, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew and freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's grand-nephew, will be vying to enter Parliament.
Nine parliamentary constituencies -- Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata South and Kolkata North are up for grabs in the final phase of the 2019 general election, where an electorate of around 1.49 crore will decide the fate of 111 candidates in the fray.
The Kolkata North seat has the highest number of candidates (21) contesting among 42 parliamentary constituencies in Bengal, while it also has the lowest number of electorate (14.44 lakh).
The political temperature soared as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, her party's celebrity candidates Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty, and CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury campaigned for their respective party candidates in the three districts that would go to the hustings on May 12.
Heightened tension and violence centering on BJP chief Shah's rally in the heart of Kolkata on May 14, prompted the Election Commission to crack the whip and curtail the campaign time by 20 hours, invoking the Constitution's Article 324 for the first time in history.
Stakes are also high in South 24 Parganas district's Diamond Harbour seat as Chief Minister Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee is contesting for a second term. He is pitted against CPI-M's Fuad Halim, BJP's Nilanjan Roy and Soumya Aich Roy of Congress.
In Jadavpur constituency in Kolkata's southern suburbs, a triangular battle is on the cards as popular Bengali actress and political greenhorn Mimi Chakraborty faces a tough challenge from CPI-M's veteran politician and former city mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and BJP candidate Anupam Hazra, who defected from Trinamool a few months back.
The prestigious Kolkata South and Kolkata North seats, both of which are currently held by the state's ruling party, will also see a nail biting political battle amid the BJP's ascendency and high octane campaigns across the city.
In Kolkata North parliamentary seat, which has a sizable number of Hindi speaking voters, the contest is largely between BJP's National Secretary Rahul Sinha and sitting MP and Saradha chit fund scam accused Sudip Bandyopadhyay. The CPI-M has fielded Kaninika Bose Ghosh while the Congress has nominated Syed Shahid Imam.
In Kolkata South, where a number of star voters including the Chief Minister, former Indian cricket captain Saurav Ganguly and a host of Bengali intellectuals, artists and film stars will exercise their rights, Subhas Chandra Bose's grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose is contesting on a BJP ticket while Trinamool has fielded Mala Roy and CPI-M has named Jadavpur University professor Nandini Mukherjee.
The Basirhat Lok Sabha seat, bordering Bangladesh that was hit by communal violence in 2017, has also hogged the limelight since the announcement of the candidate list as another Tollywood actress Nusrat Jahan is fighting against BJP's Sayantan Basu.
The EC has decided to deploy 710 companies of central paramilitary forces across the nine constituencies in a bid to secure all polling stations for Sunday's voting.
The votes will be counted on May 23.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)