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Huge voter turnout in Bengal, heavy polling expected through the day

Six constituencies go to polls in West Bengal in the second round, marking a crucial test for the Congress in the state.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2014 10:29 IST
HT Correspondent

West Bengal recorded heavy polling till 9am on Thursday with 22% voter turnout in Maldah North, 21% in Maldah South and 20% polling Balurghat constituency.

Six constituencies go to polls in West Bengal on Thursday in a crucial test for the Congress.

Voting will be held across four districts of north Bengal — North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Maldah and Murshidabad — in the second round. Muslims account for majority of voters in Maldah and Murshidabad.

The region is a traditional stronghold of the Congress, which has now been challenged by the ruling Trinamool Congress. The two parties fought the 2009 polls together, but parted ways later.

The Congress holds five of the six constituencies, while one is with Left Front partner Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Minister of state (MoS) for railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is the sitting MP from Berhampore, which is in Murshidabad and goes to polls on May 12. The Congress had won six of the 42 seats in Bengal in 2009.

High-profile candidates in the second round of polling in Bengal include Mausam Benazir Noor (Congress candidate from Maldah North seat) and President Pranab Mukherjee's son, Abhijit (Congress candidate from Jangipur seat).

These elections, chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool is ready to throw a tough challenge to the Congress in the region. Her minority appeasement politics has triggered a big debate in Bengal.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which does not have a considerable presence in the state, hopes to spring a surprise.

There is a big talk that the BJP might bag an impressive vote share in Raiganj (North Dinajpur) and upset the calculations of both the Congress and the Trinamool. Deepa Dasmunshi, former Union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi's wife, is seeking re-election from the seat.

In such a scenario, CPI(M) central committee member Mohammad Selim, who is contesting the seat, may reap the benefits.

Balloting kicked off in Bengal a week ago, with four constituencies in north Bengal going to polls.

Elections will be held in the state over the next three phases on April 30 (nine seats), May 7 (six seats) and May 12 (17 seats).

With Agency inputs

Here's a map for the constituencies going to polls on Thursday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and key candiates there:

Facts and Figures