WB: Left, TMC biggies in fray; edge for Mamata
Almost 1.5 crore voters in 75 seats in Kolkata, North and South 24-Parganas will vote on Wednesday.
New Delhi: Almost 1.5 crore voters spread across 75 Assembly seats in Kolkata, North and South 24-Parganas will vote in the crucial third phase of the West Bengal elections on Wednesday. Some of the biggest stalwarts of the Left are in the fray, including Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and 11 other state ministers. The region, however, is known to be tricky for the ruling Left Front and is expected to tilt towards Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress. Mamata's camp, on the other side, also has an interesting line-up of artists, actors and economists facing the voters on Wednesday.
In an interesting contest, CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is up against his ex-colleague Manish Gupta in Jadavpur assembly constituency. Gupta, former Chief Secretary in the West Bengal government and a Trinamool Congress candidate, is banking heavily on the Mamata magic in his historic battle against the Left stalwart.
Other than Bhattacharjee, the fate of 11 other state ministers, including Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta, Housing Minister Gautam Deb, Transport Minister Ranjit Kundu, Leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) secretary general Amit Mitra, will be decided in 17,792 polling booths.
At Dum Dum, CPM heavyweight Gautam Deb is pitted against theatre artiste and Trinamool candidate Bratya Basu. Similarly, Khardah in North 24-Parganas may see a pitched battle between finance minister Asim Dasgupta and ex-FICCI chief Amit Mitra. Mitra may get to play an important role in the finance and industries sector if Trinamool comes to power.
Trinamool Congress too has high stakes in this round, with the area regarded as its citadel going by the last poll results. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Trinamool and its alliance partner Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist nominees were ahead in 66 of the 75 assembly segments.
A number of other celebrities nominated by the Trinamool -- film stars Debashree Roy, Chiranjeet (Dipak) Chakroborty, and singer Anup Ghoshal -- are also trying their luck in the third phase.
Ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) is contesting in 61 constituencies, the Forward Bloc in seven, Communist Party of India and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) in three each, Trinamool Congress in 70 and the Congress in five. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has put up candidates in all the 75 constituencies, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 51.
Over 600 companies of security forces have been deployed and more than 3,000 polling stations have been identified as super sensitive. Around 1.4 lakh people have been identified as vulnerable to threats from miscreants. Polls to the 294-member assembly, which started April 18, will end May 10. The counting of votes will take place May 13.
(With inputs from agencies)
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