The ruling Trinamool Congress is trying to fight off a stiff challenge from the BJP

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a massive public rally at Kolkata's Brigade Ground, campaigning has gathered momentum for the West Bengal State Assembly Elections.

Launching a sharp attack on Trinamool Congress leader and state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Modi hit out against corruption, unemployment, and violence in West Bengal.

Pointing out that the TMC had been in power for 10 years, he wanted to know what change it had been able to being about in the lives of the people.

Promising that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would being about 'ashol poriborton' (real change), he said, "I appeal to all of you to not be afraid! Vote for BJP without any fear. Vote against ill-governance and for freeing people of fear. Bengal wants development and vote for it".

He later thanked the crowd for the massive turnout, saying the BJP was West Bengal's "preferred choice".

This was PM Modi's first visit to West Bengal since the Election Commission announced the poll schedule.

Banerjee, meanwhile, held a 'padyatra' (march) in Siliguri to protest against the hike in LPG cylinder prices.

Over the past several weeks, she has been exhorting the people of West Bengal to back the TMC and keep the BJP at bay.

Polling to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases, beginning March 27.

The ruling Trinamool Congress is trying to fight off a stiff challenge from the BJP in a bid to retain power. The Congress and Left parties are contesting the elections as part of an alliance.

West Bengal will see eight phases of polling on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29.

Four other states and Union Territories - Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherrry - are also voting for their respective legislative assemblies.

Results for all the state assembly elections will be announced on May 2.