With the eighth and last phase of the West Bengal assembly polls underway on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to cast their votes to enrich the festival of democracy while following COVID-19 protocols.
Taking to Twitter, PM Modi wrote: "Last phase of the 2021 West Bengal elections takes place today. In line with the COVID-19 protocols, I call upon people to cast their vote and enrich the festival of democracy."
Polling began at 7 am on Thursday for 35 seats in the eighth phase of the assembly elections in West Bengal amid the surging second wave of COVID-19.
Long queues were seen outside most polling booths since early morning, raising concern over the spread of the infection even as the Election Commission said that all precautionary measures are in place. The state registered its highest single-day spike of 17,207 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, while 77 more people succumbed to the disease. Over 84.77 lakh voters will decide the political fate of 283 candidates in this phase.
Voting is being held at 11,860 polling stations spread over 11 assembly constituencies each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in north Kolkata. The eight-phase elections to the 294-member assembly began on March 27. The votes will be counted on Sunday.
(With inputs from Agencies)