Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
This is a crucial phase for the ruling Trinamool Congress and the challenger BJP. The Samyukta Morcha of the CPM, Congress and a few smaller parties are contesting. Polling began at 7 am in 17 constituencies of North 24 Parganas district, nine each in Nadia and Uttar Dinajpur and eight in Purba Bardhaman district. Till 1 PM, voting turnout of 57.3 per cent was recorded.
The fate of several heavyweight candidates will be decided in this phase -- three ministers, three film star, several TMC turncoat and Mukul Roy, the first Trinamool leader to join the BJP.
The 43 seats polling today had hugely contributed to the jump in the BJP's vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. From 10 per cent in the 2016 assembly polls, the BJP had cornered 41 per cent votes in 2019. The Trinamool Congress won 32 of 43 seats In 2016. In 2019, it led in 24 segments only, while the BJP, which did not win a single seat in 2016, led in 19 segments.
The Election Commission has turned down the requests of Trinamool Congress's Derek O'Brien and Congress's Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to club the remaining phases of polls.
Concerns about Covid have not put a stop to campaigning. Union minister Amit Shah will attend three poll meetings today, Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh has four road shows and the BJP's Suvendu Adhikari is holding three roadshows in Kolkata, which has been hit worst by the pandemic.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will hold four public meetings in north and central Bengal. The CPM and the Congress have dialled down their campaign citing Covid, their star campaigners have cancelled their rallies.
Adhir Chowdhury, the state Congress chief and main campaigner for the Congress, tweeted he had tested Covid positive and would be campaigning virtually. Rahul Gandhi had cancelled all his fixtures in Bengal in view of the surge.
Concerns about violence in this phase of polls have resulted in the deployment of 779 companies of central forces. Of them, 107 will be in Barrackpore, the domain of BJP MP Arjun Singh, known for political clashes.
Even on poll eve, bombs were hurled at BJPs Khardah candidate, Silbhadra Dutta, last evening, prompting a sit in protest by Dutta and BJP workers at the Rahara police station. A under construction house in Titagarh was severely damaged after some bombs stored there exploded this morning. Five people were killed in the fourth phase of polling in Cooch Behar district as the Central Industrial Security forces had opened fire, setting off shockwaves in the state and a huge controversy.
The unprecedented eight-phase election in the state started on March 27. After today, two more phases will remain. Polling will be held on April 26 and 29. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.