Lok Sabha elections 2019: Polls start in Mamata’s south Bengal fortress
Eight Lok Sabha seats of West Bengal will go to polls on Monday. Of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, 10 have already voted, amid reports of violence and malfunctioning electronic voting machines.
On Sunday, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Joy Bandyopadhyay was reportedly attacked in Howrah district. One person died in clashes between the Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in Mushirabad during the third phase of polling on April 23. On April 25, a TMC workers was hacked to death, allegedly by BJP supporters, in Malda district.
Among the eight seats, the Congress and BJP won one each in 2014. The TMC won the remaining six. In this phase, south Bengal, a traditional bastion of TMC chief and state chief minister Mamata Banerjee, will go to polls. While Banerjee has vowed to make a clean sweep of all 42 seats in the state, three in this phase stand out — Berhampore, Asansol and Burdwan-Durgapur. The Congress candidate from Berhampore, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, won in 2014 by over 300,000 votes, the biggest margin for any Congress candidate in the country. He has also held the seat since 1999.
The BJP has nominated Union minister Babul Supriyo from Asansol, which he won in 2014. In turn, TMC nominated film star Sreemati Dev Varma (Moon Moon Sen), who won the Bankura Lok Sabha seat in 2014.
In Burdwan-Durgapur, the BJP has nominated S S Ahluwalia, who won from Darjeeling in 2014. He is pitted against TMC’s Mamtaz Sanghamita, who won the seat by over 100,000 votes in 2014.
The Election Commission has stepped up the presence of central forces. Authorities indicate that 98% of the polling stations may be guarded in phase 4, up from 50% guarded in phase 1.
“In Asansol, the BJP is surely ahead since the Trinamool candidate is weak. In Berhampore, I feel that Congress candidate Adhir Chowdhury is ahead,” said Maidul Islam at the Centre for Studies in Social Studies.