Fourth-phase of Bengal polls begins; Union Minister, TMC heavyweights contesting
Voting for the fourth phase of West Bengal Assembly polls began at 7 am today. In this phase, 44 seats are up for grabs. Among those testing their fates today are Union Minister Babul Supriyo, Partha Chatterjee (seen as a trusted lieutenant of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee), Aroop Biswas of Trinamool Congress, and BJP's Locket Chatterjee. Here are more details.
More than 1.15 crore voters will be able to exercise their franchise today. A total of 373 candidates are contesting. Considering the volatile situation in the state, the Election Commission deployed around 80,000 personnel from the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) at nearly 16,000 polling booths. The maximum number of personnel have been sent to Cooch Behar, which witnessed violent incidents recently.
Of the total seats which went to polls today, nine, 11, and 10 seats are in Howrah, South 24 Parganas, and Hooghly districts of South Bengal respectively. The Cooch Behar district in North Bengal nestles nine seats and the Alipurduar district has five seats. BJP had performed well in North Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and is hoping to retain its fort.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo and Aroop Biswas are competing for the Tollygunge seat, which is seen as the heart of the Bengali film industry. Partha Chatterjee has been pitted against BJP's Srabanti Chatterjee in Behala West. Another key candidate in the race is Rajib Banerjee, a former TMC minister who has joined BJP. He has been fielded from Domjur in the Howrah district.
Members of the Parliament Locket Chatterjee and Nisith Pramanik are contesting from Chuchura and Dinhata seats respectively. After they were announced as candidates for Assembly polls, Mamata Banerjee had commented that BJP doesn't have reliable candidates, hence, is fielding parliamentarians. Actress Paayel Sarkar, who had joined BJP, is contesting from Behala East and cricketer Manoj Tiwari, who is now a TMC member, has been fielded from Howrah North.
This morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged eligible voters of West Bengal to exercise their rights. "As the 4th phase of the West Bengal elections begins, urging the people voting today to do so in record numbers. I would especially request the youth and women to vote in large numbers, (sic)" his tweet read. Mamata Banerjee also made a similar request to voters.
আমি বাংলার সকল মা, ভাই ও বোনেদের আবেদন করব, সকলে আজ বিপুল সংখ্যায় নিজের গণতান্ত্রিক অধিকার প্রয়োগ করুন।— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 10, 2021
I urge my brothers and sisters in Bengal to come out in large numbers and exercise their democratic right today.