West Bengal election dates were announced by the Election Commission on Friday.
West Bengal elections will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29, the Election Commission announced on Friday, making it the longest ever polls in the state, seemingly over concerns of violence voiced the loudest by the BJP. The results will be declared on May 2.
The eight days of voting are March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. Last time, in 2016, the voted over seven days between April and May.
The Election Commission declined to say whether the voting had been stretched out over concerns raised by the BJP, which rules at the centre but suggested that security played a role in the consideration.
"We avoid taking names of political parties. We had assessment of law and order on several factors. Last time it was seven phases so eight is not a big deal," outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said.
He said election body will be sending two observers to keep an eye on police operations and a third one can be sent if needed.
With the announcement of dates, the model code of conduct will come into effect, Mr Arora said, meaning the state government cannot announce populist measures.
West Bengal is geared up for a closely-watched contest between a surging BJP and the state's ruling Trinamool Congress.
The BJP has pulled out all the stops, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and others holding frequent rallies, to unseat Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
While the BJP has gathered remarkable momentum in the run up, investing money, time, and energy, the Trinamool has strived to dub it an "outsider" party that doesn't understand West Bengal. The poll campaign, till now, has been largely vitriolic.