Campaigning for Third Phase of Poll Ends in Bengal

Campaigning for Third Phase of Poll Ends in Bengal

Campaigning for the third phase of West Bengal assembly election, which will see a part of the metropolis go to the polls, ended this evening.

Over 1.37 crore electorate will decide the fate of 418 candidates, including 34 women, in 62 seats spread across Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan districts and north Kolkata on April 21.

A total of 1,37,42,000 voters, of them 65,79,218 women will exercise their franchise in 16,461 polling stations from 7 AM to 6 PM on the day, election office sources said.

Trinamool Congress, Left-Congress alliance and BJP have put up a fight in all the seats. Key contestants in this phase include Trinamool Congress ministers Shashi Panja and Sadhan Pande, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, five-time Congress MLA Md Sohrab, CPI-M MLA Anisur Rahman and retired IPS officer Nazrul Islam.

TMC has been facing the heat with its supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee showcaused by Election Commission over an alleged violation of the model code of conduct.

EC has also transferred a number of IAS and IPS officers including Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar.

Banerjee has been critical of the EC alleging that transfers have been made at the behest of BJP leaders.

BJP in its turn tried to make it an issue and Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked her during a rally saying that she was "fighting" with the EC and questioned why the state chief secretary replied to a showcause issued to her by it.

Anubrata Mondal, Birbhum district president of TMC known to be close to Banerjee, has been under the EC's glare ever since the election began earlier this month.

Already under 24/7 surveillance by a videographer, local magistrate and a contingent of 10 central force personnel, Mondal had ventured out of his constituency despite specific orders from the EC. As a result an FIR was filed against him.

BJP has been banking on the charisma of its national leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and HRD Minister Smriti Irani who held election meetings during this phase.

The scorching summer sun and the heatwave in several districts is adding to the poll heat. In the metropolis where voting will be held in seven constituencies, the weatherman has forecast 41 degrees C on polling day. 

In north Kolkata, the recent tragedy of Vivekananda road flyover collapse which left 26 people dead on March 31 is an election issue.

In his campaign trail, Rajnath Singh raised the issue of fake currency, infiltration and cow smuggling at the Indo-Bangladesh border in the state.

Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi attacked both TMC and BJP for not taking action against culprits involved in Saradha scam and black money laundering.

Under pressure due to the Narada sting, Banerjee said she would have "given a thought" before choosing her party candidates for the ongoing assembly elections had the video tapes been telecast earlier.

Former minister Humayun Kabir, who was expelled from Trinamool Congress for making anti-party statements, is in the fray from Rejinagar seat as an independent.

Murshidabad district, a Congress stronghold, will see five-time Congress MLA and former minister Abu Hena in the fray at Lalgola, while party MLA Manoj Chakraborty is in the ring from Baharampur.

Former investment banker Mahua Moitra, who left her lucrative job as vice-president of JP Morgan in London in 2008, will fight on a TMC ticket from Karimpur seat in Nadia district.

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