Campaigning for the high-decibel fourth phase of polling for 44 assembly seats in five districts of West Bengal ended at 5pm on Thursday. On April 10, a total 1,15,81,022 voters including 58,82,514 men, 56,98,218 women and 290 members of the third gender, will decide the fate of 373 candidates in constituencies spread over Howrah (Part II), South 24 Parganas (Part III), Hooghly (Part II) in south Bengal and in north Bengal’s Alipurduar and Coochbehar.
Here are the key candidates, star campaigners and issues raised as West Bengal heads for the fourth phase of polling:
Schedule for 4th Phase Polling in West Bengal:
The polling will be held between 7 am to 6.30 pm in 15,940 polling stations. At stake are nine assembly constituencies in Howrah, eleven in South 24 Parganas, five in Alipurduar, nine in Coochbehar and ten in Hooghly.
Key Candidates in Phase 4 of Bengal Polls:
Among those whose fate will be decided at the hustings are former Bengal Ranji captain Manoj Tiwary, TMC’s candidate from Shibpur, state education minister and sitting MLA from Behala Paschim Partha Chatterjee and central minister Babul Supriyo of the BJP who has locked horns with state sports minister Arup Biswas for the Tollygunge seat.
Ratna Chatterjee, wife of former city mayor and fire minister Sovan Chatterjee, who left Mamata Banerjee’s TMC to join the BJP for a short period, is facing BJP’s actress- turned politician Payel Sarkar for the Behala Purbo seat Former state forest minister, Rajib Banerjee, who moved to the BJP recently is contesting from Domjur while BJP MP and actress Locket Chatterjee is contesting the polls from Chinsurah in Hooghly district. The Sanyukta Morcha comprising Left front, Congress and ISF has fielded mostly young faces for the fourth phase of polling. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty is one of the few seniors fielded by the Left for this phase of the elections.
BJP’s star campaigners included PM Narendra Modi, Union Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda, Smriti Irani, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath besides, Bollywood star of yesteryears Mithun Chakraborty who criss-crossed the state trying to build up support for the saffron party. TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her nephew and party MP Abhishek were among star campaigners for the TMC.
Key Poll Issues:
The BJP leadership targeted the TMC government, Banerjee , her nephew Abhishek Banerjee accusing them of corruption and “appeasement politics” and claimed that their “khela shesh hobe” (game will be over). Modi and Shah promised voters early implementation of Ayushman Bharat scheme, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi as well as implementation of the 7th pay commission scales for state government employees if voted to power in West Bengal.
Meanwhile, the TMC stepped up their attack on the BJP-led central government over recent hike in prices of gas, petrol, diesel, besides plans to disinvest in a large number of central government run PSUs. Banerjee also accused central police forces of harassing and intimidating voters in Bengal and urged voters to “gherao” them in case securitymen prevented them from voting. The fiery TMC leader during a public rally at Tarakeswar in Hooghly district on April 3 also appealed to the minority community not to divide their votes. This led to the Election Commission of India (ECI) issuing a showcause notice to Banerjee for demanding votes on communal ground.
Heightened Security for 4th Phase of Bengal Elections:
Taking note of the “sensitive” situation in the 44 assembly constituencies in Bengal, the ECI has decided to deploy at least 789 companies of the CAPF. Cooch Behar will have the highest deployment with 187 companies being deployed.
(With PTI inputs)