West Bengal is one of the poll states that will see the outcome of the state assembly elections today, along with Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. This time around, the state has witnessed a tough fight between BJP and Mamata Banerjee-led TMC. According to the India Today-Axis My India exit poll, Trinamool is likely to be a step behind with 130-156 seats, while BJP is likely to win 134-160 seats.
The election in West Bengal was conducted in eight phases at a time when India struggled with an unprecedented coronavirus wave. Many parties scaled down or cancelled rallies as cases saw a sharp increase.
There are three main sides in this fight -- BJP, Trinamool, and Congress and Left Front that fought the elections in alliance.
Here are 10 things you need to know about the Bengal Election 2021:
There are 292 seats that went to the polls this season. Around 82 per cent voters cast their votes. Polling in two constituencies was deferred due to the death of contestants. To win in the 294-member West Bengal Assembly, a party or coalition needs to win 148 seats.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is eyeing her third consecutive term as Bengal CM. In the course of the elections, BJP emerged as TMC's principal rival. The two parties had a fierce face-off.
BJP that had sensed the anti-incumbency mood and its chances of victory, sent in the bigwigs to campaign in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda conducted several rallies in the state.
Congress and the Left contested the election in alliance. The two parties are rivals in Kerala that also went to the polls this election season. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi did not have an intense campaign. In fact, in view of the rising coronavirus cases, Gandhi called off his rallies in Bengal.
The state voted on issues of immigration, citizenship laws, COVID-19 management, religious polarisation and Cyclone Amphan. Even as multiple parties promised job creation, development of infrastructure and efficient public services, the prime focus was not the same.
The second phase in the eight-phased elections in the state saw the highest polling percentage at over 86 per cent followed by 84.63 per cent in the first and 84.61 per cent in the third phase.
The seventh and eighth saw the lowest voter turnout at about 77 per cent and 78 per cent respectively. This was mostly due to the exponential increase in the number of coronavirus cases.
The maximum number of seats that went into the poll was in the fifth phase with 45 constituencies, followed by 44 in Phase 4, 43 in Phase 3, 35 in Phase 8, 34 in Phase 7 and 31 in Phase 3. Phase 1 and Phase 2 saw 30 constituencies each.
The Election Commission had asked its observers and poll officers to strictly enforce its updated norms on COVID-19 safe campaigning. It asked them to cancel public meetings and rallies and invoke penal provisions if violations are observed.
BJP on Saturday asked its party workers to strictly follow guidelines prohibiting victory procession. "India is suffering from a dangerous phase of Covid-19. Lakhs of people are getting infected. The central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working hard to help fellow Indians and to defeat the second wave of coronavirus," said BJP general secretary Arun Singh in a letter.