TMC bastions, big names in Phase 3 of West Bengal elections
The third phase of the West Bengal Assembly Election 2021 will take place on April 6, following the polling for the first two phases of the polls held on March 27 and April 1 respectively. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) are facing each other, as the Congress and the CPI(M)-led Left Front has joined forces with Abbas Siddiqui's Indian Secular Front (ISF) to secure their place in the equation. In the run-up to the third phase, BJP leaders, including TMC turncoat Suvendu Adhikari, accused chief minister Mamata Banerjee of turning a blind eye to multi-crore scandals in the state. Mamata Banerjee, on her part, is focusing on the popularity of her social welfare projects.
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Here's a primer on Phase 3 of the West Bengal assembly elections on Tuesday:
31 assembly constituencies in 3 districts
In Phase 3 of the West Bengal assembly elections, 31 seats across three districts — South 24 Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly — go into polls. These are further divided as follows:
16 seats in South 24 Parganas — Basanti, Kultali, Kulpi, Raidighi, Mandirbazar, Jainagar, Baruipur Purba, Canning Paschim, Canning Purba, Baruipur Paschim, Magrahat Purba, Magrahat Paschim, Diamond Harbour, Falta, Satgachhia, Bishnupur.
7 seats in Howrah — Uluberia Uttar, Uluberia Dakshin, Shyampur, Bagnan, Amta, Udaynarayanpur, Jagatballavpur.
8 seats in Hooghly — Jangipara, Haripal, Dhanekhali, Tarakeswar, Pursurah, Arambag, Goghat, Khanakul
In Phase 3 of the Bengal polls, the TMC and the BJP are contesting all 31 assembly seats.
From the Sanyukta Morcha, the CPI-M is contesting 12 seats — Kultali, Raidighi, Jaynagar, Baruipur Purba, Baruipur Paschim, Magrahat Purba, Diamond Harbour, Satgachhia, Bishnupur, Bagnan, Tarakeswar, and Arambag.
Congress is contesting 7 seats — Canning Purba, Falta, Shyampur, Amta, Udaynarayanpur, Dhanekhali, Pursurah.
Siddiqui's ISF is contesting 6 seats — Kulpi, Mandirbazar, Canning Paschim, Jagatballavpur, Jangipara, Haripal.
The Forward Bloc (FB) is contesting in 2 seats — Uluberia Dakshin and Goghat.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) is contesting 1 seat — Basanti.
The Sanyukta Morcha has not fielded any candidates in the 3 remaining seats — Magrahat Paschim, Uluberia Uttar, and Khanakul.
Most of the 31 assembly constituencies going for polls in the third phase of the elections on Tuesday are traditional TMC bastions, as is apparent from the past assembly polls' results. A few of the notable faces, contesting from their respective constituencies this time, are as follows:
1. Constituency: Uluberia Uttar (Howrah)
Candidate: Dr Nirmal Maji, TMC
Notable for courting frequent controversies, Dr Nirmal Maji will be contesting his home constituency of Uluberia Uttar on behalf of the TMC, after winning the seat for his party in both the 2011 and the 2016 assembly elections. Most recently though, he was in the news for describing medical students as "dogs" after facing their protest at the 186th Foundation Day programme of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, as per a PTI report. This time around, he will be facing BJP's Chiran Bera in the 2021 state assembly polls.
2. Constituency: Raidighi (South 24 Parganas)
Candidate: Kanti Ganguly, CPI-M
Veteran CPI-M leader Kanti Ganguly was a former minister in the Left Front government in West Bengal, serving first as the minister in charge of Sunderbans Development, and later as sports and youth welfare minister after the death of Subhas Chakraborty in 2009. Although he lost the last two elections to TMC's celebrity candidate Debashree Roy, the CPI-M this time is banking on Ganguly's much-publicised relief work done in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan's devastation in rural Bengal.
3. Constituency: Tarakeswar (Hooghly)
Candidate: Swapan Dasgupta, BJP
Former Rajya Sabha MP and Padma Bhushan recipient Swapan Dasgupta came under the media spotlight in the run-up to the 2021 West Bengal assembly elections, since he left his post at the upper house of the Parliament to contest the state polls from the Tarakeswar seat. A former journalist and academic, Dasgupta's works have been featured in a myriad of volumes on the intersectionality of Indian politics to subaltern studies. He will be facing TMC's Ramendu Singha Roy in the 2021 assembly polls.
Past polling trends
Ahead of Phase 3 of the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls, here are the results of the past state elections in these 31 assembly seats.
Of these 31 seats going to polls on Tuesday, TMC won 29 of them in the 2016 assembly elections (15 seats in South 24 Parganas, 6 seats in Howrah, and 8 seats in Hooghly). The Left Front + Congress alliance secured the remaining 2 seats (1 in South 24 Parganas and 1 in Howrah).
In the 2011 state assembly elections, TMC won 26 of these seats (13 in South 24 Parganas, 6 in Howrah, and 7 in Hooghly). The Left Front + Congress alliance won the 5 remaining seats (3 in South 24 Parganas, 1 in Howrah, and 1 in Hooghly).