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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Bengal parties upbeat ahead of penultimate phase on Saturday


 After over 77 per cent voter turnout on May 20’s fifth phase with zero bloodshed, West Bengal will on Saturday vote in the crucial penultimate phase across eight Lok Sabha constituencies of Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur.

Over 1.45 crore voters from five districts will choose eight winners from among 79 candidates.

This sixth phase holds huge significance, not only for the state but also for the nation, as it plays a crucial role in shaping the political trajectory of one of India’s most populous states during the festival of democracy.

The saffron brigade, however, has a mathematical edge over the ruling Trinamool Congress as the main opposition in the state won five of these seats in 2019, while rest went to TMC.

Officials sources said some 145,34,228 voters, of them 71,70,822 women, have been enrolled to cast their votes in about 15,600 polling stations.

Of the 79 aspirants in this phase, majority are Independent candidates under the constant vigil of nearly 1000 companies of Central Armed Forces.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) while announcing the polling schedules in mid March reiterated that the poll panel this time is committed to ensuring free, fair and fearless voting.

The poll panel needs kudos as well as in the past five phases so far not a single person has been killed since April 19 in vote-related violence in the presence of central forces. There had been not even a report of EVM loot nor any fight inside the polling booth so far.

In the 2021 assembly polls in Bengal during the first phase five people were killed and the tally went up immediately after May 2 results.

Bengal also witnessed bloodbath during the Panchayat polls in 2023 and these events made the EC extra cautious for the General Elections in the state.

The poll panel has meticulously planned the polling schedules to ensure a smooth and efficient electoral process, which was opposed by the ruling party for prolonging in the oppressive summer.

The TMC and BJP are contesting in all seats, while Left- Congress combine also in the eight segments, the CPI(M) in five, Forward Bloc in one and Congress in two.

The contest once again revolves between Mamata Banerjee-led TMC and Narendra Modi’s Parivar candidates, sources added.

Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura, Bishnupur constituencies serve as battlegrounds where candidates from different political parties vie for victory, aiming to secure their foothold in the state’s political landscape as 2026 is state assembly poll.

In Tamluk, Purba Medinipur the fight is between new horns TMC’s Debanhshu Bhattacharyya and Justice (Retd)Abhijit Gangopadhyay (BJP), and Sayan Banerjee of the CPI(M).

In Kanthi, also in Purba Medinipur, TMC’s Uttam Barik, Soumendu Adhikari from BJP, also the youngest brother of Suvendu Adhikari, and Urbashi Bhattacharya from the Congress would vie.

The seat was held by Adhikari’s father Sisir Adhikari, who won on TMC ticket in 2019 but the whole family’s allegiance switched over to the saffron brigade after the eldest joined the BJP in 2020.

The Ghatal, also in Medinipur, is where Tollywood super star Dev alias sitting MP Dipak Adhikari seeks his reelection against his professional friend in the studios Hiranmay Chattopadhyay from the BJP. Papiya Chakraborty is from the grand old party also vying for victory.

Once Maoist-dominated Jhargram, TMC’s Kalipada Soren, medic Pranat Tudu from the BJP, and Sonamoni Murmu (Tudu) of the CPI(M) are in contention. The seat was held by the BJP’s Kumar Hembram in 2019 but suddenly he quit politics right now.

The Medinipur seat will witness actor June Malia of TMC against Agnimitra Paul of BJP, a fashion designer-turned full time politician for the past five years. CPI’s Biplab Bhatta is also contesting the seat.

Purulia, also a former bastion of Maoists, where TMC’s Shantiram Mahato is facing BJP’s sitting MP Jyotirmay Singh Mahato. Congress veteran Nepal Mahato is also in the fray.

In neighbouring Bankura, which has also acute water problems, TMC’s Arup Chakraborty is in the run against sitting MP and Union Minister Dr. Subhash Sarkar. Nilanjan Dasgupta from the CPI(M) is also one of the contenders.

Bishnupur, also in Bankura, witnesses a keen contest where Sujata Khan (Mondal) faces her estranged husband and sitting MP Soumitra Khan from the BJP.

Shital Kaibartya from the CPI(M) is also in the hustings.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has alerted the district administrations to keep all necessary arrangements in polling stations in view of formation of Deep Depression ‘Remal’ over Central Bay of Bengal.

The Commission has instructed the Costal Districts Authorities to be prepared to meet any eventuality.

Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal Dr. Arif Aftab on Wednesday reviewed the situation at a high level meeting with the concerned District Authorities where State Disaster Management Secretary and Officials from Metrological Department were present.

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