Kolkata: The first of the six-phase Assembly election in West Bengal began at 7 AM on Monday in 18 constituencies in the Left-wing extremism-affected areas.
A tight multi-layered security ring was thrown in the three districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura to tackle any threat by Maoists.
Phase 1(a) of the election will decide the fate of 133 candidates, including 11 women, fighting from the 18 constituencies.
Out of them, 13 seats have been roughly classified as LWE-affected areas by the Election Commission where voting will end early at 4 pm due to security considerations.
In the remaining five constituencies of Purulia, Manbazar, Kashipur, Para and Raghunathpur voting will go on for two extra hours till 6 pm.
Total number of voters in the constituencies are a little over 40 lakh (40,09,171) out of which 20,47,202 are males.
The third gender category list shows only a handful of 16 voters.
There are total 4,945 polling stations out of which 1,962 have been classified as critical ones by the Election Commission.
Voter Verifiable Audit Trails (VVAT) are being done in 562 polling stations.
Unlike in 2011 Assembly polls where the Trinamool Congress was its partner, the Congress this time has forged an alliance with the Left parties.
All the three - Trinamool, Left-Congress alliance and BJP - have fielded candidates from all 18 seats.
Gobordhan Bagdi is the only one fighting on two seats of Para and Raghunathpur on a JMM ticket.
In all Left-wing extremism affected polling stations, the EC has decided to deploy a minimum of one section of force, which has around ten security personnel.
There will be a minimum of three security layers including sector forces and a quick response team.
Central forces will be present in every polling booth and depending on the requirement the deployment of forces can increase.
For aerial surveillance, two choppers will conduct regular sorties and inform forces on the ground if they notice any undesirable activity.