Voting begins in phase two of LS polls in Bengal

Siliguri: Long to medium sized queues were seen before polling booths, as voting began at 7 a.m. for three northern West Bengal constituencies in phase two of the Lok Sabha polls on Thursday.

Colourfully attired tea garden workers and their dependents were among those who turned out in strength in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri constituencies, while Muslim community members were seen in good numbers at the prestigious Raiganj seat in the early hours.

The polling would continue till 6 p.m.

A total of 49,32,346 voters — 25,22,887 men, 24,09,372 women and 87 registered in the ‘other’ category — are eligible to express their democratic choice across 5,390 polling stations to decide the fate of 42 candidates in multi-cornered fights basically involving the Trinamool, BJP, CPI-M and the Congress.

In 2014, the Trinamool Congress had won Jalpaiguri, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) bagged Raiganj while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured Darjeeling.

The Trinamool, BJP, Congress and Left Front spearhead CPI-M are in fray in all three the seats.

The star constituency is Raiganj in North Dinajpur district, where sitting MP Mohammad Salim of the CPI-M is taking on former Union Minister and Congress nominee Deepa Dasmunsi, BJP state general secretary Debasree Chaudhuri and Trinamool candidate Kanaia Lal Agarwal. Ten other candidates, including five independents, are also in fray.

In Darjeeling — famed for its tea, timber and tourism, BJP’s Raju Singh Bisht is taking on Trinamool’s Amar Singh Rai, Saman Pathak of CPI-M and Congress’ Sankar Malakar. There are also seven candidates from other registered parties and five independents.

Trinamool has renominated its sitting MP Bijoy Chandra Barman in Jalpaiguri, where the BJP ticket has gone to a medico Jayanta Kumar Ray, Congress has fielded tea workers’ leader Mani Kumar Darnal, with the CPI-M fielding Bhagirath Chandra Roy.

The subsequent phases of polls will be held on April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19.

The votes will be counted on May 23.