West Bengal: Voting begins for fourth phase polls

Kolkata: Voting for 44 constituencies in West Bengal’s fourth phase Assembly elections began at 7 am on Saturday amid tight security.

This phase of the elections will witness an intense battle between 373 candidates in 44 constituencies of the state across five districts – Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.

Among the 44 constituencies, nine are in Howrah, 10 in Hooghly, 11 in South 24 Parganas, five in Alipurduar and nine in Cooch Behar.

Over one crore voters

A total of 1,15,81,022 voters will participate in this phase, out of which 2,63,016 are first-time voters. The smallest constituency is Bally with 1,76,001 electorates whereas Chunchura is the biggest constituency with 3,13,701 electorates.

As many as 15,940 polling stations will be used, including 12,361 main and 3,579 auxiliary stations.

Against the higher number of constituencies in this phase, security has also been beefed up in all 44 constituencies with a total of 900 companies of security forces deployed to ensure a peaceful election.

ITBP troops conducted night patrols before fourth phase polling in Chandannagar Assembly constituency in Hooghly district.

Out of these, 140 companies 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 coys in Alipurduar and 188 in the nine seats of Cooch Behar.

High-profile contests

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. Worth mentioning, Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan campaigned for TMC candidate Aroop Biswas. Meanwhile, CPI(M) has fielded Debdut Ghosh from the seat.

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 Pramanik 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.

BJP and TMC engaged in extremely heated debates before and during the elections, with both sides accusing each other of the violence that has marred the previous three phases. On the other hand, the Sanjukta Morcha – a coalition of Left, Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) has been relatively quiet.

The fifth phase of the assembly elections will commence on April 17. Counting of votes will take place on May 2.