Amidst tight security, voting began on Wednesday morning for the election to six Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, four of which are located in the former Maoist hotbed of Jangalmahal.
Central forces have been deployed in all the six seats of Jhargram, Binpur, Bandwan, Balarampur, Jaypur and Baghmundi and helicopters, bomb detection and disposal squad and anti-landmine devices have been lined up to maintain security.
Area domination, route marches and flag marches have also been undertaken in the entire region.
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.
An electorate of 8877071 comprising 4608838 men and 4268191 women voters and 42 from the other gender will decide the fate of 72 candidates.
One of the most watched constituencies in this phase is Bankura where Basudeb Acharia is pitted against former actress Moonmoon Sen of Trinamool Congress.
The BJP is likely to be a crucial factor in at least two seats - Asansol and Bankura, and has generated a lot of interest among the electorate.
Polling time has been reduced 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.