Over three lakh voters of Bhabanipur, a south Kolkata legislative constituency, will today seal the fate of Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, who is looking to enter the state Assembly before the end of her six-month period of Chief Ministership-without-being-an-MLA.
The over 12 hours of polling began around 7 am. The votes will be counted on October 3. The election was necessitated due to the resignation of Ms Banerjee's party leader Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay to make way for her.
The Chief Minister has had to contest because, despite her own party's tremendous victory in the Assembly polls held this April-May, she could not win from Nandigram. The BJP put up a tough fight there through its Suvendu Adhikari, a confidant-turned-foe of the Chief Minister.
The TMC chief had earlier said that being elected from her home seat was her "destiny", according to a PTI report.
"My victory is necessary to continue as chief minister as it is only me who will fight against CAA, NRC, demonetisation and the anti-people policies of BJP," she said.
The contest may not necessarily be a cakewalk for her despite the fact that she lives there -- her Kalighat residence is located in the constituency -- and that she had won the seat twice, in 2011 and 2016.
The BJP has put up 41-year-old Priyanka Tibrewal as a candidate against its arch-rival. Although she lost the recent Assembly polls and also the 2015 municipal polls, the Calcutta High Court lawyer has turned high profile, being one of the petitioners in the post-poll violence case against the state government.
The CPM, on the other hand, has fielded another lawyer Srijeeb Biswas.
Given the kind of political heat the contest has generated in its run-up, a web of security has been laid over Bhabanipur. Prohibitory orders have been placed 200 metres around polling booths since Tuesday evening, banning more than five people from gathering in the area.
Up to 35 companies of Central paramilitary forces have been deployed, with three personnel to be present at each of the 270-odd booths all of which have been declared sensitive. Mitra Institution, a state high school where Ms Banerjee casts her vote, is among the 13 booths declared "very sensitive".
The Election Commission has asked the state Irrigation Department to be on alert, given the potential for inclement weather conditions, PTI reported. All polling stations have been directed to keep pumps ready to drain out floodwaters, it said.
There are 1,11,283 male and 95,209 female voters in Bhabanipur. There are four belonging to the third gender.
Besides Bhabanipur, polls will also be held tomorrow in Shamsherganj and Jangipur in Murshidabad district.