Kolkata: Security has been stepped up for the penultimate fourth phase Lok Sabha poll in West Bengal on Wednesday as four of the six seats going to the poll fall in Jangalmahal where the Maoists ruled till recently.
The Left Front is under pressure to retain the six seats, Bankura, Jhargram, Purulia, Medinipur, Bishnupur and Asansol, it had won in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, though with a reduced margin.
Of the six, the CPI(M) had won four and Forward Bloc and CPI shared one seat each in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Former actresses Moonmoon Sen and Sandhya Roy and singer Babul Supriyo are expected to give a tough fight in three of the six seats.
In the 2011 Assembly Election, the Trinamool Congress had made deep inroads in the Assembly segments falling under these six seats covering the districts of West Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and Bardhaman.
An electorate of 8877071 comprising 4608838 men and 4268191 women voters and 42 from the other gender to decide the fate of 72 candidates.
Veteran CPI(M) MP Basudeb Acharia, who is fighting for his tenth term, had won by over 2,30,000 votes in 2004, but it was reduced to around 1,07,000 votes in 2009.
In Bishnupur, the CPI(M) had won by over 3,31,000 votes in 2004, but it came down to 1,29,000 votes in the last elections.
The Purulia constituency sent the Forward Bloc candidate to the Lok Sabha with a margin of 19,000 votes only, which stood at over 87,000 votes in 2004.
In Medinipur, CPI had won by over 1,60,000 votes in 2004 while it came down to just 48,000 in the last elections. CPI(M) candidates had the same fate in Jhargram and Asansol seats with the margin going down hugely.
One of the most watched constituencies in this phase is Bankura where Basudeb Acharia is pitted against former actress Moonmoon Sen of Trinamool Congress.
While singer Babul Supriyo is the BJP candidate from Asansol and is said to be giving the TMC`s Dola Sen a tough time, former actress Sandhya Roy is fighting from Midnapore against Probodh Panda of CPI.
The BJP is, however, likely to be a crucial factor in at least two seats - Asansol and Bankura, and has generated a lot of interest among the electorate.
Elaborate security arrangement has been made for the election with deployment of central forces, helicopters, bomb detection and disposal squad and anti-landmine devices.
Area domination, route marches and flag marches have been set in motion in the entire region and a tight security net has been thrown around specially in Jhargram, Binpur, Bandwan, Balarampur, Jaypur and Baghmundi, OSD in CEO`s office Amit Roy Chowdhury said.
Two helicopters have been kept on standby for the three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia along with medical support teams.
Besides this, 10 satellite phones have been provided for authorities to improve communication.
In view of the sensitive nature of the region, the EC has reduced polling time by two hours in the Assembly segments of Jhargram, Binpur and Bandwan under Jhargram Parliamentary constituency, and Balarampur, Baghmundi and Jaypur under Purulia Parliamentary constituency.