From Sri Ram to Duryodhana and choppers to wheelchair, the poll campaign in the first phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal has been vibrant and vivacious.
The game of power is all set to begin when the first phase of the assembly polls will be held on Saturday. In the first phase, 30 seats covering all assembly constituencies from the districts of Purulia and Jhargram and a segment of Bankura, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur will go for polls.
However, the power-packed campaigns involving stormy rallies and mega roadshows were mostly dominated by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The third front i.e. the coalition of the Congress, Left Front and Indian Secular Force has been observed in the back foot when it comes to fierce campaigning.
The ambitious BJP has done intense campaigning with the goal to topple the incumbent TMC government in the state. To continue its stride in Bengal especially after an overwhelming result in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state, the party has brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and many others in the campaign fray.
It will not be wrong to say that West Bengal has become the second home for Shah and Nadda who have been holding roadshows and rallies every other day.
When the 'Jai Sri Ram' slogan became synonymous with the BJP, another slogan that has been dominating this election season is 'Khela hobe' (game is on). Though the slogan was raised by TMC, it has now crossed the barrier of party lines.
Even PM Modi in his public meetings in Kharagpur, Kanthi, Bankura or Purulia took a jab at TMC saying, "Khela sesh, vikas shuru (game is over, now development will start)."
"Didi bole khela hobe, BJP bole chaakri hobe. Didi bole khela hobe, BJP bole vikas hobe. Didi bole khela hobe, BJP bole shiksha hobe. Khela shesh hobe, vikas aarambh hobe," he had said.
"Didi, if you want you can put your foot on my head and kick me. But Didi, I will not let you kick Bengal's development and dreams of its people," PM Modi had said while hitting out at Mamata Banerjee.
On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not miss any stage to launch scathing attacks on the top BJP leadership. "We do not want to see Modi's face. We do not want rioters and looters. We do not want Duryodhana and Dushasana," said Mamata while mounting veiled attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Sitting on a wheelchair, Mamata exerted her best efforts in the campaigns to testify her statement that a "wounded tigress becomes more aggressive."
Going a step further, the Chief Minister said, "I will play such a shot with my one good leg that it will completely bowl out BJP."
Earlier this month, the TMC supremo sustained "severe bone injuries" on her left foot and ankle as well as bruises and injuries on her shoulder, forearm and neck, according to the report of her initial medical examination. She was later discharged from the hospital on March 12 introducing the new dimension of her poll campaign with a 'wheelchair'.
Meanwhile, the BJP has called it tactics of gaining the sympathy of voters.
Mamata reckoned the 'Mir Zafar' title to TMC defector Suvendu Adhikari, who joined the BJP in December last year.
Suvendu Adhikari, who is at a head-to-head contest against Mamata in the Nandigram seat in the second phase, has been playing a significant role in carrying BJP's flambeau in Bengal.
Now just days before the first phase, along with Suvendu, his father Sisal Adhikari have thrown their weight behind the BJP in the ongoing electoral process, giving a big jolt to the incumbent TMC. The TMC MP from Kanthi shared the stage with Prime Minister Modi and Shah in their rallies in his home turf Purba Medinipur.
Another, political character that has gained much importance in this poll season is Mamata's nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee. The BJP leaders in their public meetings attack Abhishek with the nickname "Tolabaaz Bhaipo" (extortionist nephew).
For the first phase of polling, a total of 191 candidates are in the fray, out of which 21 candidates are women and 170 are men.
Going back to the 2016 assembly polls, the ruling TMC won 27 out of these 30 seats, whereas Congress managed to garner two seats and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) won a single seat.
Some notable names for the first phase of polling include Srikanto Mahato, Rajib Lochan Saren, June Malia and Uttam Barik from TMC, and Rabindranath Maity, Chandana Bauri and Rajib Kundu from BJP.
Congress has fielded five candidates for the first phase such as Nepal Mahato from Baghmundi, Shiu Maiti from Bhagabanpur, Uttam Banerjee from Balarampur, Manas Kumar Karmahapatra from Egra and Partha Pratim Banerjee from Purulia.
Elections to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
The state is likely to witness a triangular contest this time with TMC, Congress-Left alliance and the BJP in the fray.
( With inputs from ANI )
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