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Polling begins in West Bengal


Kolkata : Polling began Wednesday morning for 11 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the final phase of the general elections, which will decide the fate of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.

After the first two rounds of polling in the state April 30 and May 7, the voting now covers Kolkata and its two adjoining districts of South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas.

Pollign began at 7 a.m. and paramilitary personnel stood guard at all voting stations in the metropolis, where every booth has been declared sensitive.

Poll pundits have predicted a close fight between the ruling Left Front and a resurgent Trinamool Congress and its alliance partner the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI).

The fate of 100 candidates, including Banerjee and eight other women, will be decided by 13.8 million electors across 17,136 polling booths.

Eyeing a sixth straight win, Banerjee is in the fray from her Kolkata South constituency against old foe Rabin Deb of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

In the 2004 election, Left Front major CPI-M had won 10 of the 11 seats, with Banerjee retaining Kolkata South.

The Trinamool is fighting 10 seats, leaving one to SUCI.

Of West Bengal’s 42 seats, 11 went to the polls April 30 and 17 voted May 7.