Bengal gears up for final phase as 35 seats go to polls today
Thirty five seats across Bengal will vote in the final phase of assembly elections in West Bengal on Thursday, bringing down the curtain on a month-long poll season that began with a high stakes political battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) but was overshadowed by the surge in Covid-19 infections in the state.
Elections will be held in six seats in Malda, 11 each in Murshidabad and Birbhum and seven in Kolkata. Fresh polling will also be held at booth No 126 in the Sitalkuchi constituency of Cooch Behar district where four men were killed in firing by central armed police forces (CAPF) after the forces were allegedly attacked by locals on April 10.
In Malda, Samir Ghosh, an independent candidate from Baishnabnagar, died of Covid-19 on Monday. In Murshidabad, Pradip Kumar Nandi, the Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate from Jangipur, and Rezaul Haque, the Congress candidate from Samserganj, died earlier this month. Polls were to be held in these seats on April 26, but the Election Commission rescheduled the date to May 16.
In Kolkata, which remains a TMC bastion, winning seats is a challenge for the BJP that is looking to come to power in the state for the first time.
In Murshidabad, where the Muslim population (66.28 %) is the highest among all districts, the Congress is expected to retain control of some regions despite TMC inroads. In the adjacent district of Malda, which has the second-largest Muslim population (51.27%) in the state, successors of iconic Congress leader A B A Ghani Khan Choudhury still hold away. Notorious for political violence, Birbhum is the only district where polls in all seats are being held in a single phase amid tight security.