The voting, which started at 7 am, will continue till 6 pm.
An electorate of 1,34,56,491, spread across 15,277 polling stations, will decide the fate of 68 candidates in Jangipur, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Burdwan East, Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol, Birbhum and Bolpur constituencies. 59 of the candidates are male and nine female.
Leading the pack of star constituencies is Asansol, where Union Minister and sitting BJP MP Babul Supriyo – a singer-turned-politician – is facing a challenge from Trinamool’s Moon Moon Sen, yesteryear’s actress and daughter of Bengali screen legend Suchitra Sen. CPI-M, which has its pockets of support in the constituency, is also in fray.
In neighbouring Burdwan-Durgapur, BJP leader, Union Minister and Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia is locking horns with Trinamool contestant and incumbent MP Mumtaz Sanghamitra.
In Baharampur, former Union Minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is bidding for his fifth straight win, while Krishnanagar is set for an absorbing tussle between erstwhile investment banker Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool and BJP contestant former India soccer goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey.
The Election Commission has decided to deploy 561 companies of central paramilitary forces covering 98 per cent of the booths to ensure foolproof security.
In the last general election, the Trinamool romped to victory in half a dozen seats with the BJP and the Congress winning one each.
The subsequent phases of polling will be held on May 6, 12 and 19. Polling for the Cooch Behar and Alipurduar constituencies took place in the first phase on April 11, while Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Raiganj voted on April 18. In the third phase, on April 23, Balurghat, Malda North, Malda South, Jangipur and Murshidabad went to the hustings.
The vote count is on May 23.