Assembly elections: Nandigram among 30 West Bengal constituencies voting today
A total of 69 Assembly constituencies, spread across West Bengal and Assam, went to polls today morning. Of the seats up for grabs in the second phase, the constituency which has gained maximum attention is Nandigram, from where Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is fighting. She is up against her former trusted lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari, who had jumped to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In Bengal, the second phase of polls marks the end of high-decibel campaigning, where both the BJP and ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) hurled accusations at one another. While BJP weaved its campaign around 'poriborton' (change), TMC made it a battle between insiders and outsiders. On the last day of campaigning for the second phase, Banerjee said "outsiders plotted against her."
For both the key players, the battle for Nandigram is a prestige fight. It was the agitation against land acquisition in 2007 that made Banerjee a formidable force in Bengal politics. Eventually, in 2011, she ended the 34-year-long Left rule. But she is now facing tough competition from Adhikari. Since Adhikari is a local face, her insider v/s outsider narrative may not have found many takers.
Considering the high-stakes battle and the history of violence during polls in Bengal, the Election Commission has deployed 22 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to Nandigram. The constituency has 2,57,999 registered voters. Reportedly, the top polling body is being sent regular reports about the law and order situation. A total of 30 Assembly constituencies in Bengal went to polls.
In his appeal to voters today, Adhikari took a dig at Banerjee. "I appeal to people to come out in large numbers to cast their vote as the whole country is looking at Nandigram. People are waiting to see if development or politics of appeasement will win here," he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asked eligible people to vote in record numbers.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Assam, 39 seats went to polls. Nearly 345 candidates, including four sitting ministers and the deputy speaker, are testing their fate today. As many as 73.4 lakh people could exercise their rights in more than 10,000 booths. BJP, which performed well in these areas in the 2016 polls, is fighting for 34 seats. The Opposition Congress fielded candidates on 28 seats.
Voters being screened with a temperature gun, given hand sanitiser hand gloves as they arrive at polling booths for the second phase of #AssamAssemblyPolls. Visuals from a polling booth in Nagaon. pic.twitter.com/E0AgJzDHme— ANI (@ANI) April 1, 2021