PM Modi urges voters to follow Covid-19 norms as West Bengal holds final phase of assembly polls
Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested the voters to come forward and cast their ballot in the eighth and final phase of West Bengal assembly elections on Thursday while keeping in mind Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.
“Last phase of the 2021 West Bengal elections takes place today. In line with the COVID-19 protocols, I call upon people to cast their vote and enrich the festival of democracy,” PM Modi wrote on Twitter.
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As many as 84 lakh voters in West Bengal will decide the political fate of 283 candidates in the fray across 35 constituencies in the last phase of polling. Voting began at 7am across 11,860 polling stations spread over 11 assembly constituencies each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in Kolkata.
The results on May 2 will determine whether chief Mamata Banerjee holds the chief minister’s chair for the third time in a row, or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is confident of winning at least 200 seats, manages to overthrow the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government and open its account in the eastern state.
In the last phase of the West Bengal elections, however, a three-cornered contest is expected in many of the 17 constituencies in Malda and Murshidabad districts where the Left-Congress-ISF combine has a stronghold apart from the TMC and the BJP.
As the state votes amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission has put in place measures to ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols during the voting process, an official told news agency PTI. This comes a day after the recorded the biggest one-day spike of 17,207 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, which has taken the state’s total infection tally to 793,552, according to the state department health bulletin cited by PTI.
Due to the second Covid-19 wave, which has wreaked havoc across several states, the EC had restricted the number of people at election rallies to 500 and also barred political parties from conducting roadshows due to which the campaigning for the eighth phase of polls remained a modest affair. Parties either took to virtual platforms or held small street-corner meetings for campaigning, which ended on April 26 evening.