Zee Media Bureau
Kolkata: The first phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal on Thursday will be held in four constituencies of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar - all in north Bengal.
A closely-fought contest is anticipated in the Darjeeling constituency between GJM-backed BJP candidate S S Ahluwalia and Trinamool Congress candidate Baichung Bhutia, the two representing the two sides of a bitter war over statehood for the hills.
Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal will be in five phases from April 17 to May 12.
Though the TMC has never won any of these north Bengal seats, it is banking on its good performance in the 2011 Assembly elections and is making an all-out effort to open its account in this area.
All eyes are on the Darjeeling seat where football icon Bhaichung Bhutia of the Trinamool Congress is pitted against SS Ahluwalia of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) combine.
The CPI(M) has, however, kept its campaign in these constituencies low key depending on the candidates and local leaders to spearhead the campaign.
While RSP has fielded sitting MP Manohar Tirkey from Alipurduars, CPI(M)`s incumbent in Jalpaiguri seat Mahendra Roy has also been fielded.
Over 9,000 electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be put to use in Thursday`s voting which involves contests in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar parliamentary constituencies.
Number of male voters stand at 3,123,299 while 2,909,975 are female. Voters registered in the others category are 36.
Maximum number of candidates are from Darjeeling which is the smallest constituency of the first phase. Coochbehar with 16,11,815 electors is the largest.
Jalpaiguri tops the list of MPS with 28 booths while Coochbehar takes away the prize in terms of maximum booths managed by women at 28.
With PTI/IANS inputs