West Bengal Poll Dates 2021 | State to see 8-phased polls from March 27: ECI
Assembly elections in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29 and the results for the polls to the 294-seat assembly will be declared on May 2, the Election Commission of India announced on Friday.
The eastern state is all set to see a fierce battle between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is eyeing power in the state with a majority of over 200 seats. The poll becomes all the more crucial following the defection of several leaders of the ruling party to the BJP in the recent months. The TMC also faces corruption investigations against its leaders.
The Congress and the Left, who will be fighting the elections together, are in the process of finalising the seats ahead of the high stake contest.
As campaigning for the upcoming elections is in full swing across the state, the top two contenders, the BJP and TMC, have been training guns at each other with Banerjee asserting her party will be “goalkeeper” in assembly polls and won’t let the national party “score a single goal.” The BJP, on the other hand, has been holding rallies and roadshows across West Bengal promising “Sonar Bangla” and throwing light on the rise in corruption and violence under Banerjee’s reign and the charges against the ruling party’s leaders.
If the TMC wins the assembly elections, Banerjee will retain the chief minister’s chair for the third time in a row whereas the BJP, which hasn’t announced its candidate for the state’s top post yet, will open its account in Bengal if it manages to get a majority.
A team of Election Commission officials recently visited the poll-bound state to review preparedness. The poll panel also checked all 78,000-odd polling booths across West Bengal to provide assured minimum facilities, such as toilets, drinking water and ramps, on the polling day.
A senior official told news agency PTI that assembly elections in Bengal will be based on the Bihar model, the state where polls were held for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that ECI has begun inoculating officials involved with the polling and that the entire process would be over before the election starts. "Covid protocol is still applicable in West Bengal. We will stick to the protocol followed during the assembly election in Bihar," the official added.
Officials inside polling booths will need to wear masks, face shields and gloves and use sanitiser on the premises and once inside the polling stations, voters will have their body temperatures checked, the official said. He added that the temperature of a voter is found beyond the permissible limit of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be checked and if it is still high, the voter will be asked to come back to cast their vote in the final hour of the day (5 pm-6 pm). Suspected Covid-19 patients will be allowed to cast their ballot only after others finish exercising their franchise.
Voters would also be provided with disposable gloves for one hand, which they will wear while signing and at the time of pressing the button of the electronic voting machine (EVM), the poll body’s official said.