West Bengal Election 2021 Voting: 283 candidates in fray for phase 8; full list of constituencies going to polls today
The final phase of the West Bengal Assembly Election will be held in 11,860 polling stations spread over 11 seats each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in Kolkata North districts amid a raging second wave of COVID-19 cases
Polling for the eighth and final phase of the West Bengal Assembly Election will be held today (29 April Thursday) between 7 am to 6.30 pm amid strict COVID-19 guidelines. The election will seal the fate of 283 candidates who are in the fray for 35 seats in Malda, Murshidabad, Kolkata North and Birbhum.
Security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, particularly the death of five people in Cooch Behar in the fourth round of polling on 10 April, an election official told PTI.
The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 641 companies of central forces, including 224 in Birbhum district, in the eighth phase to ensure free and fair voting, he said.
Phase eight not only witnessed curtailed campaigning due to a 72-hour silence period but roadshows were banned while attendance in public meetings was capped at max 500 to prevent the spread of the virus.
Amidst the restrictions, political parties holding virtual rallies to woo voters ahead of the penultimate phase of polling. Campaigning for the eighth and final phase of polling for 35 Assembly constituencies in West Bengal ended at 6.30 pm on Monday (26 July).
Voting for the previous seven phases were held between 27 March and 26 April. Counting of votes will take place on 2 May.
A total of 84,77,728 voters — 43,55,835 male, 41,21,735 women and 158 of the third gender — are eligible to exercise their franchise in the final phase of the election.
Of the total 35 seats, six constituencies are in Malda, 11 in Murshidabad, seven in Kolkata North and 11 in Birbhum districts, Election Commission sources said. Polling will be held in 11,860 polling stations in the 35 constituencies. Here is the full list of constituencies going to polls tomorrow:
|Sl No||Constituency list||District|
Key candidates and seats
While 11 candidates each have been fielded by the Trinamool Congress, BSP and BJP, CPM is contesting in four seats, Congress in three, AIFB in 2 and RSP (1), the EC sources said.
There are four Independent candidates in the fray as well. The focus in this phase of polling will be on five Assembly constituencies in Kolkata north — Beleghata, Jorsanko, Shyampukur, Maniktala, Kashipur-Belgachia — as a neck and neck contest is expected between TMC heavyweights and BJP challengers.
In Shyampukur seat, state minister for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Shashi Panja is contesting against BJP's Sandipan Biswas and AIFB's Jiban Prakash Saha. In Beleghata, TMC has fielded Paresh Paul against BJP's Kashinath Biswas and CPM's Rajib Biswas.
In Jorasnko, BJP has named Meena Devi Purohit against TMC's Vivek Gupta and Congress' Ajmal Khan. The TMC has named Atin Ghosh in Kashipur-Belgachia against BJP candidate Sibaji Sinha Roy and CPM's Pratip Dasgupta.
A close contest is also expected in the Maniktala Assembly seat where state Consumer Affairs Minister and TMC veteran Sadhan Pandey will fight former India footballer and BJP candidate Kalyan Chaubey and CPM's Rupa Bagchi.
Political experts are sensing a tough fight in the Bolpur Assembly seat of Birbhum where the BJP has fielded Anirban Ganguly against state minister Chandranath Sinha. Keen contest is also expected in Nanoor, Murari and Labhpur.
They are also expecting a similar contest between the ruling TMC and the opposition BJP and Samyukta Morcha (Congress-CPM-ISF alliance) candidates in Malda district and 11 seats in Murshidabad district.
Virtual rallies, curtailed hours mark campaigning in Phase 8
With the EC banning roadshows and vehicle rallies in the state after the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country as well as in West Bengal, leaders of political parties chose to either campaign virtually or hold small rallies with a maximum of 500 participants.
The EC has booked and show-caused several candidates for flouting the COVID-19 safety norms. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and her party MP Abhishek Banerjee held virtual campaigns as did Prime Minister Narendra Modi from New Delhi.
BJP president JP Nadda, its West Bengal head Dilip Ghosh, Bollywood superstar Mithun Chakraborty and other star campaigners like Smriti Irani held small rallies to campaign for the party's candidates contesting in the eighth phase of polling. The BJP leaders attacked Banerjee and her nephew and other party leaders alleging that they were involved in the Saradha and Narada tapes scams. The saffron party also claimed that they were responsible for siphoning of funds allocated for Amphan cyclone and COVID-19 pandemic relief.
The BJP leaders maintained that corruption and anarchy are prevalent in West Bengal and that the party will put an end to it after coming to power in the state. The TMC supremo hit out at the BJP for the rising prices of petrol, diesel and LPG and also held the BJP responsible for the second wave of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
She also alleged that the prime minister, in order to capture West Bengal, had forgotten about the entire country which is facing a crisis because of the COVID-19 second wave.
23% of candidates have criminal cases against them
According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), out of the 283 candidates contesting in the last phase of the West Bengal polls, 23 percent have declared criminal cases against themselves.
The West Bengal Election Watch and the ADR have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all the 283 candidates from 35 constituencies, who are contesting in the polls to be held on 29 April.
"Out of 283 candidates analysed, 64 (23 percent) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves and 50 (18 percent) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves," the report said.
Twelve candidates have declared cases related to crime against women while six candidates have declared cases related to murder (Indian Penal Code Section-302) against themselves. The report said that 17 candidates have declared cases related to attempt to murder (IPC Section-307) against themselves.
The poll rights body said 11 (31 per cent) out of 35 constituencies are 'red alert' constituencies. Red alert constituencies are those where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. The report further said that out of the 283 candidates, 55 (19 percent) are crorepatis.
With inputs from PTI
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