West Bengal Election Phase 5 begins today
Coming out of the shadows of a bloody and violent fourth phase election, the state of West Bengal will hold another episode of the eight-phase mass Assembly elections on Saturday (April 17) in 45 seats spread across northern Bengal and the hills. Voting will take place from 7 am to 6 pm.
More than crore voters will dominate the political destiny of 342 candidates in 45 electoral districts spread over five districts.
Security measures have been strengthened for phase five in view of the violence in the previous phase, which witnessed the deaths of five people in Cooch Behar, including four in CISF shootings.
The Election Commission has decided to deploy at least 853 companies from the central forces to ensure a free and fair vote, said a voting panel official.
It will also implement measures to ensure strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols during the voting process, he said.
West Bengal recorded the highest peak in a single day of 6,769 on Thursday coronavirus cases and at least 22 more deaths.
Prominent names in the fifth phase include the mayor of Siliguri and the leader of the Left Front Ashok Bhattacharya, the BJP ministers of state Gautam Deb and Bratya Basu and Samik.
Voting will take place in 15,789 polling stations in the 45 constituencies 16 seats in northern 24 Parganas, eight in Purba Bardhaman and Nadia, seven in Jalpaiguri, five in Darjeeling, and one in Kalimpong district. The phase is crucial for Trinamool’s ruling Congress, which hopes to improve its 32-seat tally in 2016, even as a resurgent BJP seeks to breakthrough.
The Left-Congress alliance had won 10 seats in the assembly elections five years ago. TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee, who had urged the EC on Thursday to consider conducting polls for the remaining assembly seats in one go in the wake of the emerging COVID-19 situation, held several public meetings and roadshows in most seats in the run-up to the fifth phase.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Interior Minister Amit Shah led the BJP’s blitzkrieg campaign, which has strengthened TMC’s main rival in these elections.
Congressional leader Rahul Gandhi has also held two public meetings in North Bengal as part of his first campaign in the state for assembly elections.
The campaign for the fifth phase ended on Wednesday and the EC increased the ‘period of silence’ from 48 to 72 hours in light of the violence from Cooch Behar.
Elections have so far been held in 135 constituencies, and the remaining 159 seats will go to the polls between April 17-29.
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