West Bengal will hit the General Elections on April 17 and the contest for 42 parliamentary constituencies will take place in five phases.
The polling dates are: 17 April (Phase 5), 24 April (Phase 6), 30 April (Phase 7), 07 May (Phase 8), 12 May (Phase 9).
Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats, eight are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates and two constituencies - Alipurduars and Jhargram are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates.
Bengal, the sixth most populous state of the country, had been ruled by the Left front – an umbrella group of Lefist parties - for over three decades until 2011, when Mamata Banerjee`s Trinamool Congress broke the routine and romped to victory in Assembly Elections.
The major national parties active in West Bengal are: The Communist party of India (CPI), the Communist party of India (Marxist) CPI(M), the Indian National Congress (INC), and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The regional parties in the state are: All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC), All India Forward Block, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Gorakha National Liberation Front and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Jyoti Basu, a CPI(M) leader was the longest serving Chief Minister of any state in India and ruled West Bengal from 1977 to 2000.
In 2000, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took over the reins of Bengal and continued till 2011, when TMC`s firebrand leader Mamata Bannerjee put an end to 34 years of Left-rule in the state.
WB Lok Sabha elections 2014 is touted to be a four-cornered battle among the TMC, BJP, Congress and the Left Front.
The left parties are losing clout consistently since drubbing in 2019 Lok Sabha elections when the Left Front could manage only 15 seats, while Mamata`s TMC won 19 seats and emerged as the leading party.
Low on morale, the LF has dropped dropped winning candidates of five seats out of 15 which it had won last time.
TMC had contested only on 27 seats in 2009, but this time it is going for all the 42 seats and is expected to win over 30 seats.
TMC wants to cash in on celeb power this Lok Sabha elections as its list of candidates is dominated by eminent personalities like singers, actors, sportsmen, doctors, lawyers, etc.
Also, in what flaunts Mamata di`s belief in women power, 11 women have been fielded by the TMC.
TMC has given the key constituency of Darjeeling to the famous footballer Bhaichung Bhutia.
Other key TMC candidates include cine stars from Bengali film industry like Suchitra Sen`s daughter Moon Moon Sen, Sandhya Roy and Dev.
The BJP has no significant presence in Bengal which has traditionally been the bastion of the Left parties and now of the TMC.
In the last Lok Sabha elections 2009, the BJP had won just one seat, that of Drajeeling, which was won by Jaswant Singh. But the saffro party has this time alienated Jaswant, who wanted to fight from Barmer in Rajasthan.
But, a Modi wave is said to be swooshing past the entire country and it may have an effect on Bengali`s ether as well.
The BJP is fielding candidates from all the 42 seats, with noted celebs like magician PC Sorcar and Bollywood singers Bappi Lahiri and Babul Supriyo featuring on its candidate list.
According to the BJP, Congress might eat into the vote share of the TMC, and hence the saffron party might get the brownie points.
The BJP`s hopes are high also because it has the support of Bimal Gurung`s Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the alliance hopes to put up a strong fight against the TMC.