Bengal goes to fourth phase election on Monday under massive security blanket

Kolkata, May 12 (UNI) After an incident-free three-phase polling in ten Lok Sabha seats in northern districts, Bengal goes to fourth phase election to eight Lok Sabha seats on Monday.

An estimated over 1.5 crore electorate, including 71,45,379 women and 282 third genders, spanning over 15,507 polling stations will have to return eight winners from some 75, including 16 female, aspirants seeking their electoral fortune in five districts.

The contest, however, revolves around the candidates of ruling Trinamool Congress, main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and combined Left-Congress for Baharampur, Ranaghat (SC), Krishnanagar, Bardhaman Purba, Bardhaman-Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur and Birbhum Lok Sabha seats in five contiguous districts of Central Bengal.

Whilst the TMC and BJP are contesting in all eight seats, Left in six and Congress in two constituencies.

In the fourth phase, some 70,641 voters are above 80 many of whom have already cast vote using home voting facilities, State election official said.

Among the voters, new electors are 23,544 of the age between 18-19. Of the total booths of 15,507, 3,647 are critical and violence-prone.

Women-run polling booths are 791, while five booths are to be handled by specially able poll personnel.

Among the booths 42 are model, according to the poll panel.Altogether 596 CAPF and over 33,472 state police are being deployed to ensure free and fair voting, official sources said.

The key players in the south Bengal constituencies are state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury from Baharampur, TMC’s Mahua Moitra (Krishnanagar) Shatrughan Sinha (Asansol), and former cricketers Yusuf Pathan ( Baharampur) and Kirti Azad (Bardhaman-Durgapur), BJP’s former state president Dilip Ghosh (Bardhaman-Durgapur) and former Union minister S S Ahluwalia (Asansol).

A galaxy of BJP leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh have campaigned for BJP candidates Rajmata Amrita Roy (Krishnanagar) and Dilip Ghosh.

Roy, who hails from the Krishnanagar Royal family, is the richest among them with total assets worth Rs 554 crore as declared in her election affidavit. She is contesting against TMC’s Mahua Moitra.Modi and Shah campaigned for Ghosh, who is pitted against Kirti Azad.

Ghosh won the last Lok Sabha polls from Medinipur but this time he was nominated to contest polls from Bardhaman Durgapur.

The Baharampur Lok Sabha seat in Murshidabad district has thrown up a triangular contest with Chowdhury, a five-time MP defending his home turf, TMC’s Yusuf Pathan and BJP’s Dr Nirmal Kumar Saha.Out of the eight seats, the TMC won four seats in 2019, BJP three and Congress one seat.

After BJP MP from Asansol Babul Supriyo resigned and joined TMC, bypolls were held at Asansol. TMC candidate Shatrughan Sinha won the seat in 2022.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had campaigned for the party candidates extensively across these five districts.

In volatile Birbhum, where both seats were won by the TMC in 2019, this time a new dimension happened as the saffron brigade had to replace its nominee at the fag end.

The candidature for former IPS Debasish Dhar was cancelled during the scrutiny and the BJP nominated Debtanu Bhattacharya to contest the polls from the seat.

Bhattacharya is contesting against three-time TMC MP Shatabdi Roy.

The BJP’s central leadership had also to change its candidate from Asansol seat after criticism in social media against Bhojpuri singer and actor Pawan Singh, some of whose compositions were considered derogatory to Bengali women.

The BJP then placed two-time MP S S Ahluwalia from the seat.Though a local from Asansol, Ahluwalia has represented Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat (2014-19) and adjoining Bardhaman Durgapur Lok Sabha seat (2019-24). He will be contesting against TMC candidate Shatrughan Sinha.

While Baharampur features TMC’s Yusuf Pathan, BJP’s Dr Nirmal Kumar Saha and Adhir Ranjan Choudhary from Congress, supported by Left, Krishnanagar constituency (Nadia) features Mahua Moitra (TMC) against Rajmata Amrita Roy of the BJP and S M Saadi of CPI(M), Ranaghat (Nadia) TMC’s Mukut Mani Adhikari, Jagannath Sarkar of BJP and Alokesh Das of the CPI(M) and Bardhaman Purba features Dr Sharmila Sarkar from TMC, Asim Kumar Sarkar of BJP and Nirav Khan from CPI(M).Asansol’s electoral landscape will feature TMC’s Shatrughan Sinha, S S Ahluwalia of the BJP and Jahanara Khan from CPI(M).

Bolpur features Asit Kumar Mal of TMC, Priya Saha of BJP and Shyamali Pradhan from the CPI(M).Birbhum will see Shatabdi Roy of TMC, BJP’s Debtanu Bhatacharya and Milton Rashid from INC affiliated with the CPI(M).

There are contrast issues in the fourth phase polling over the CAA,alleged torture of the women and land grabbing of the Sandeshkhali women and sisters, polarisation of politics, allegation agaist an MP for passing the password of Parliament, questions for cash, allegations of non-implementation of central schemes, corruption and infiltration among other things, besides closed industries.

Among some 1.5 crore electorate, the voters have also an issue of holding the sanctity of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s brainchild Visva Bharati at Santiniketan under Bolpur segment.

Elections to ten seats, nearly 1/4th of the 42 seats, across North Bengal, Malda and Murshidabad districts have concluded without shedding blood for the first time in decades, thanks to the ECI, the security forces and wisdom of the voters, who witnessed scores of casualty in 2023 Panchayat polls, 2021 Assembly poll and 2019 General election.

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