The West Bengal assembly elections will step into its last phases on Saturday, with 38 constituencies across four districts going to polls in the fifth phase under the strict vigil of security personnel.
The Election Commission (EC) has deployed 60,000 para-military personnel, in addition to state police forces, to ensure a free and fair conduct of the polls. Aerial surveillance has also been arranged and two choppers have been assigned for the purpose.
The 38 constituencies to be covered in the fifth phase include 12 each in Burdwan and West Midnapore, nine in Bankura and five in Purulia. An estimated 74.17 lakh voters across 9,425 polling booths would exercise their franchise on the day.
The fifth phase would see 193 candidates set for poll battle, featuring such heavyweights as state health minister Suryakanta Mishra from Narayangarh and West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Manas Bhuniya from Sabong, in West Midnapore.
These are among the few constituencies where the Left nominees are expected to fare well. Even in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when the Left suffered a major poll debacle across the state, it managed to survive a meltdown here.
Even then, while the wave of change was gathering momentum across the state, Left Front candidates led in 31 of the 38 constituencies, the alliance nominees of the Congress and Trinamool, led in only seven. Even in the seats where the Opposition nominees led, the margin was nominal.
Left’s target now is not only to retain those 31 constituencies, but also recover some of the other marginal constituencies to improve their overall tally in the assembly. On the contrary, the opposition’s objective is to grab some more seats, besides retaining the seven in which they were leading in 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
All 38 constituencies on Saturday would witness a three-way contest, with Left Front and BJP fielding candidates in all the seats, while Trinamool is contesting in 33 and Congress in five.