of top publications from around the globe have descended here to
record every detail of what is being dubbed a historic exercise.
For, Friday's vote count in West Bengal could see the world's
longest serving communist government in a multi-party democratic
The fate of West Bengal's 34-year-old ruling Left Front, which is
facing a determined charge from the Trinamool Congress of Mamata
Banerjee, will be known as votes are counted for elections to the
294-member state assembly.
A defeat of the Left Front will give the culturally rich eastern
state its first woman chief minister in Banerjee, while the
combine's win will once again generate awe about its ability to
buck the anti-incumbency wave.
With an overwhelming majority of pre-election surveys and exit
polls predicting the collapse of the 'red fort' and a victory of
the Trinamool Congress-Congress combine, the results of the
six-phase staggered April 18-May 10 elections have generated
The Left Front, now a 10-party coalition spearheaded by the
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), came to power in 1977
riding on the popular discontent over the excesses of the
Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.
In subsequent years, the combine has won six back-to-back state
assembly polls, but this year's elections are being generally
regarded as its toughest test.
The vote count would decide the destiny of 1,792 candidates,
including Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (Jadavpore
constituency), Industries Minister Nirupam Sen (Burdwan South),
state Congress president Manas Bhuniya (Sabong), Leader of
Opposition in outgoing assembly and Trinamool heavyweight Partha
Chatterjee (Behala West), and Kolkata Mayor and Trinamool leader
Sovan Chatterjee (Behala East).
Trinamool has also fielded several cultural figures and eminent
people from other fields like singers Anup Ghoshal (Uttarpara) and
Parikkhit Bala (Sainthia), film stars Chiranjeet Chakraborty (Barasat)
and Debashree Roy (Raidighi), theatre personality Bratya Basu,
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
secretary general Amit Mitra and former chief secretary Manish
Gupta, who is opposing the chief minister in Jadavpore.
The votes will be counted in 83 centres, each of which will be
guarded by three companies of the central paramilitary troopers,
apart from state police personnel.
"We will have eight to 12 rounds of counting," an election
Though the official figures are yet to be given, at least 82
percent of over 56 million eligible voters have cast their votes
in the poll held in 70,156 polling booths spread across 19
Contrary to earlier instances, the politically volatile state had
a peaceful election without a single incident of grave violence.
All political parties have generally expressed satisfaction with
the conduct of the poll.