The polling for the fourth phase of the West Bengal assembly elections will commence on Saturday morning, with high-profile leaders and celebrities dominating the political field. The political temperature has upped several notches after TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been served two notices by the Election Commission of India for violating the model code of conduct.
The significant aspect in this phase is Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Rudrl Ghosh is contesting from Bhabpur constituency, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee won in the last assembly elections in West Bengal in 2016.
Among the most high-profile contests, one is the Tollygunge constituency, where BJP has fielded Union Minister Babul Supriyo against sitting TMC MLA Aroop Biswas.
Biswas, also a minister in the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal cabinet has been representing the Tollygunge Assembly constituency for the last three terms. It is worth mentioning, Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan campaigned for TMC candidate Aroop Biswas. Meanwhile, CPI(M) has fielded Debdut Ghosh from the seat.
On the other hand, Behala Purba will also be witness an interesting battle as TMC has fielded Ratna Chatterjee, the estranged wife of the sitting MLA and former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee. Sovan Chatterjee was with the TMC before joining the BJP.
Notably, Sovan left BJP after he was denied the ticket from the Behala Purba this time. According to BJP, the party did not want to create controversy by fielding Sovan against his wife and had offered him the ticket from Behala Paschim. Sovan Chatterjee was also unhappy as the BJP did not give a ticket to his friend Baisakhi Banerjee. BJP has fielded actor Payal Sarkar from Behala Purba.
In Behala Paschim, it is Chatterjee versus Chatterjee. The constituency has been represented by state education minister Dr Partha Chatterjee for 20 years. Now, to challenge Partha to enter into his fifth term, BJP has fielded actor Srabanti Chatterjee from the Behala Paschim Assembly constituency. The torchbearer of the Samyukta Morcha from this seat is CPI(M)'s Nihar Bhakta.
In Howrah's Domjur, BJP leader Rajib Banerjee is taking on TMC candidate Kalyan Ghosh and CPI(M) candidate Uttam Bera. Rajib, a former minister in the TMC government joined the BJP ahead of the West Bengal Assembly polls.
In the Dinhata constituency, BJP has fielded party MP Nisith Pramk against TMC MLA Udayan Guha and Forward Bloc's Abdul Rauf. In the Alipurduar constituency, there is a contest among TMC's Sourav Chakraborty, BJP's Suman Kanjilal and Congress' Debprosad Roy.
In the Chunchura Assembly constituency, BJP MP Locket Chatterjee is standing against TMC's Asit Mazumdar and Forward Bloc's Pranab Ghosh.
The Singur Constituency in Hooghly district is all set to witness a highly anticipated battle between TMC's Becharam Manna and BJP's Rabindranath Bhattacharjee. The sitting MLA from Singur, Bhattacharjee was also one of the several leaders previously associated with TMC. As the party denied a ticket to the octogenarian leader this time, he joined the BJP. Srijan Bhattacharya is the CPI(M) candidate from the seat.
The Sonarpur Dakshin constituency will witness a contest between popular television personalities. Here, TMC's Lovely Moitra will take on BJP's Anjana Basu. Moitra and Basu both are well-known faces in Bengali soap operas. However, Shuvam Banerjee is the CPI candidate from the seat.
In the Jadavpur constituency, TMC's Moloy Majumder is taking on sitting CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty and BJP's Rinku Naskar.
CPI(M) heavyweight Mohammed Salim is contesting from the Chanditala constituency. BJP has fielded actor Yash Dasgupta against Salim. Swati Khandoker is the TMC candidate from Chanditala.
The CPI(M) has fielded Dipsita Dhar from the Bally Assembly constituency. Dhar, the joint secretary of the Students' Federation of India is pursuing PhD in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Dr Rana Chatterjee and Baishali Dalmiya are the TMC and BJP candidates from the Bally constituency.
Abdul Mannan, the Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly is contesting from the Champd constituency. BJP has fielded Dilip Singh against the veteran Congress leader.
In Shibpur Constituency, cricketer Manoj Tiwary is the TMC candidate against BJP's Rathindranath Chakraborty and Forward Bloc's Jagannath Bhattacharya.
When it comes to the constituencies in Howrah and Hooghly, there will be a tough battle between the TMC and the BJP. While TMC has the upper hand when it comes to their development works, the BJP is counting on the non-Bengali voters in the industrial belt.
Since there has been visible development in these areas, the major concern among voters is the lack of employment opportunities. The closure of jute mills and an air of anti-incumbency is one of the major challenges facing TMC. However, the after-effects of lockdown on the economy and rising fuel prices have led to a decline in BJP's popularity.
In the districts of Cooch Behar and Alipurduar, the BJP has established a stronghold, especially after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the party won the two constituencies. Meanwhile, in South 24 Parganas, TMC has an edge over other parties.
For the fourth phase of the polls, 373 candidates will contest for 44 constituencies in the state across five districts - Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly. A total of 1,15,81,022 electorates will be included in this phase.
A total of 15,940 polling stations will be used, including 12,361 main and 3,579 auxiliary.
As the number of constituencies have increased in this phase, security has also been ramped up with the deployment of 900 compes of security forces, as per the West Bengal Chief Electoral Office.
A total of 140 compes of central forces are deployed in the nine Assembly seats in Howrah, 175 for Hooghly's 19 seats, 185 for South 24 Parganas' 11 seats, 105 compes in Alipurduar and 188 in the nine seats of Cooch Behar.
The fifth phase of the assembly elections will commence on April 17. Counting of votes will take place on May 2.
( With inputs from ANI )
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