Kolkata: Campaigning for the sixth and final phase of West Bengal Assembly elections, covering 14 seats in the Maoist-affected Junglemahal area spread over West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts came to an end on Sunday.
26, 57,436 voters will decide the fate of 97 candidates in this phase on May 10.
Of the constituencies going to polls, the highest number, of seven seats are in West Midnapore district, followed by four in Purulia and three in Bankura.
Prominent candidates in this phase are CPM's Susanta Ghosh, the controversial minister in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's government contesting from Garbeta and his main rival Hema Chowbey of the Congress whose election rally was addressed by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Jailed PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato, who floated an unrecognised political party called Durniti Santras O Samrajyabad Birodhi Ganatantrik Mancha, is contesting as an Independent from the Jharagram seat.
Mahato was denied permission by the jail authorities to campaign in person, but an election rally organised in his support at Jhargram yesterday witnessed a good turnout.
Union home minister Chidambaram, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee campaigned for their respective party candidates.
While Bhattacharjee urged the electorate to defeat the Trinamool alleging that its victory would enable the Maoists to raise their heads, Mamata stressed on the Left Front government's indifference to the plight of the people of the Junglemahal. Mukherjee, in one of his rallies, called upon the Maoists to shun violence and sit for talks to settle their demands.
With most of the constituencies in Maoist-affected areas, the challenge before the administration is to ensure peaceful WB elections in the final phase.
According to police sources, about one lakh security personnel, comprising state police and 700 company of para-military, were being deployed for the elections. Helicopters and satellite phones were also being used to ensure rapid response in cases of emergencies.
The Left Front has fielded candidates in 12 seats. While the Trinamool Congress is contesting in nine seats, its ally Congress is fighting in four seats. Congress-backed Jharkhand Party (Naren) is contesting in one seat. The BJP is contesting in all 14 seats.
Seven women candidates are also in the fray.