Second phase polling for three LS seats in Bengal begins

Kolkata, Apr 26 (UNI) Second phase polling for three Lok Sabha constituencies of Darjeeling, Balurghat and Raiganj in Bengal began at 7 AM on Friday under a massive security blanket.

About 272 Central Armed Forces and nearly 13,000 state police personnel are deployed to ensure the ECI mandated free and fair polling, state election sources said.

Over 51,17,955 electorate, including 25,10,356 women, are expected to exercise their franchise to return three winners among 47 aspirants from different political parties, including that of ruling Trinamool Congress, principal Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left Front in about 5298 polling stations.

The three Parliamentary Constituencies – Darjeeling, Raiganj (Uttar Dinajpur) and Balurghat (Dakshin Dinajpur) – in as many contiguous districts fall in two international borders of Bangladesh.

Of the total booths, 1334 have been identified as vulnerable where some nine ECI appointed observers, three each of General, Police and Expenditure have been overseeing the ongoing preparation and arrangement for polling.

The number of male and female voters has increased considerably this time. While Darjeeling accounts for 17,65,744, including 8,81,368 women, Raigunj accounts for 17,90,245, including 8,65,320 women, and Balurghat 15,61,966, including 7,13 668 women.

So is the number of third gender voters. A total of 210 third gender electors will also cast their votes, this time, the maximum number being in Raiganj Constituency.

In Raiganj, total 88 third gender voters will be exercising their franchises. In 2019, their numbers were 73 for the Raiganj Constituency. Next in comes Balurghat, where 81 third gender electors will cast their votes. In Darjeeling Parliamentary Constituency, 41 third gender electors will be exercising their franchises.

Though the contest on paper looks multi-cornered one, the real fight revolves between the main Opposition BJP and ruling Trinamool Congress as the former has all three sitting MPs.In Darjeeling young Raju Bista once again is trying his political fortune for the saffron brigade, while Gopal Lama and Manisha Tamang are trying their luck for the Trinamool Congress and Congress respectively.Bista has some thorns on his path since BJP rebel Bishnu Prasad Sharma is contesting as an Independent, but the BJP leadershipwas not bothered at all since the voters in the Hills never supported such partyless contestants.For Balurghat sitting MP and Bharatiya Janata Party state chiefSukanta Majumdar is contesting for his second successive termfrom South Dinajpur where state minister Biplab Mitra is seen inaction on behalf of the ruling party.The Left Front has fielded Jaydeb Siddhanta from the RSP (Revolutionary Socialist Party).Raiganj, which borders Bihar on one side and Bangladesh on the other, is poised for a triangular contest among Trinamool’s Krishna Kalyani, the BJP’s Kartick Pal and Congress nominee Ali Imran Ramz.Kalyani won the Raiganj Assembly seat on a BJP ticket in 2021 butlater shifted to the Trinamool.The BJP this time replaced sitting MP and former union minister Debasree Chaudhuri with Kartik Pal, a new face as the saffron had some factional issues.Debasree Chaudhuri this time is contesting from Kolkata Dakshin as theBJP nominee.Ramz was earlier elected to the Assembly from Chakulia on an All IndiaForward Bloc ticket.Darjeeling, also known as the Queen of Hills, has been on focus forits geographical location as well as the home to multi-ethniccommunitiesof Gorkha, Lepcha, Bhutia and other Mongoloid origins, and theTerai, Dooars and plains home to Adivasi, Rajbangshi as well as the Bengali,majority of whom has been voting for the saffron brigade since 2009.Since the mid-eighties politics in the Hills has been centered aroundthe separate Gorkhaland. The Hills are now a quasi autonomy with GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration), and the demand for the state was at adormant stage for now.Senior union ministers, TMC chairperson Mamata Banerjee, her nephewand party GS Abhishek Banerjee, and BJP’s star campaigners likeactor-politicianMithun Chakraborty, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar, SuvenduAdhikari among others held rallies to woo the voters.Union Home minister Amit Shah, whose helicopter failed to land atGokha Maidan on Sunday, however, had communicated a message withassurances to fulfillsome of the demands, including incorporation of some ethniccommunities in a list of special categories, besides mitigating thedifficulties of the tea gardens workersonce PM Narendra Modi returned to power for the 3rd successive term with votesfrom the Hills people.Defence minister Rajnath Singh also held meeting at Siliguri in favour of Bista.Mamata Banerjee whilst listing her government achievements for the past13 years assured more developments for the people living in northBengal.The Election Commission is expected to deploy additional centralforces in the 2nd phase of polling with 299 companies, 30 more thanthose on ground in the first phase.

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