West Bengal Phase V Polls: Polls being held in 45 Assembly Constituencies amid surge in COVID-19 cases

The fifth phase of West Bengal Polls is currently underway in 45 Assembly Constituencies across districts including Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North 24 Parganas, Purba Bardhaman and a segment of Nadia.

Created On: Apr 17, 2021 13:28 ISTModified On: Apr 17, 2021 13:42 IST
West Bengal Phase V Polls, Source: ANI/ Twitter

The fifth phase of West Bengal Polls is currently underway in 45 Assembly Constituencies across districts including Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North 24 Parganas, Purba Bardhaman and a segment of Nadia.

The polling is being held amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases. India reported 2,34,692 new COVID-19 cases, 1,23,354 recoveries and 1,341 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per Union Health Ministry.

Despite the surge,  there was  54.67 percent voter turnout till 1:34 pm.

Key Highlights

•Under the fifth phase, 45 constituencies covering the districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong and a segment of Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Purba Bardhaman have gone to polls.

•A total of 319 candidates are in the fray this time, including 39 women.
This phase will see a key battle between BJP and TMC, as while BJP has maintained a stronghold in 13 constituencies from North Bengal, the TMC is in a relatively comfortable position in the south Bengal seats. 

•The Left Front is also expected to create some surprise in some of the seats in South Bengal.

•The election campaign in North Bengal focussed majorly on the Gorkhaland movement, atrocities against tea garden workers and lack of development work, while in the South it majorly focussed on the lack of employment opportunities.

Key Constituencies 

1. Siliguri: CPI(M)'s Ashok Bhattacharya is the key contestant against BJP candidate Shankar Ghosh and TMC's Omprakash Mishra. Bhattacharya is a former Mayor of Siliguri. He is also a prominent communist leader in North Bengal.

2. Dum Dum: Senior TMC leader and minister in the state government Bratya Basu has been fielded from the seat and he is up against CPI(M)'s Palash Das and BJP's Bimal Shankar Nanda.

3. Kamarhati constituency: The key contestant is TMC heavyweight Madan Mitra, who is facing competition from BJP's Anindya Raju Banarjee and CPI(M)'s Sayandip Mitra.

4. Barasat: Actor Chiranjeet Chakraborty is contesting from the seat on behalf of TMC against BJP's Shankar Chatterjee and Forward Bloc candidate Sanjib Chattopadhyay. 

5.Bidhannagar: TMC's Sujit Bose is pitted against BJP's Sabyasachi Dutta from this seat.

6.  Matigara-Naxalbari: The constituency, known for an over 50-year-old Maoist movement, is witnessing a transition from a Red belt into a saffron fabric. BJP has fielded Anandamoy Barman from the seat, Congress has fielded sitting MLA Sankar Malakar and TMC has fielded Captain Nalini Ranjan Ray. The Congress MLA Malakar has been representing the constituency since 2011.

7. Memari: TMC's Madhusudan Bhattacharya will be competing against BJP's Bhismadeb Bhattacharya and CPI(M)'s Sanat Banerjee.

8. Jamalpur: Sitting Marxist Forward Bloc MLA Samar Hazra is pitted against TMC's Alok Kumar Majhi and BJP's Balaram Bapari.

9. Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong: TMC has not fielded a candidate from these constituencies as  GJM is backing the TMC here. 

10. Rajarhat Gopalpur: TMC has fielded singer Aditi Munsi against BJP's West Bengal spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya. CPI(M) has fielded Subhajit Dasgupta. 

Security tightened

A total of 1,071 companies of central forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful elections in this phase. 

Campaigning Time Curtailed

Before the start of the fifth phase of polls, the Election Commission had decided to curtail the timings of campaigning for the remaining phases and extended the silence period to 72 hours for each of the phases.

The EC said in its order that no rallies, public meetings, street plays and Nukkad sabhas will be allowed on any day during the days of the campaign between 7 pm and 10 am with effect from 7 pm of April 16, 2021. 
It added saying that the silence period for rallies, public meetings, street plays, nukkad sabha, bike rallies or any gathering for campaigning purposes shall be extended to 72 hours before the end of polls for all the remaining polling phases in West Bengal.

This came after several people expressed concern over the rising COVID-19 infections, including West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. 

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) had also called an all-party meeting over adherence to COVID-19 norms during election campaigning. During the meeting, the ruling TMC had suggested to club the remaining phases into one, however, this was not agreed upon by the BJP. 

Coronavirus in West Bengal 

Ahead of the fifth phase of polls , West Bengal had reported 6,910 new COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total cases in the state has reached 6,43,795, which includes 41,047 active cases and 10,506 deaths. 

The first four phases of the WB polls were held on March 27, April 1, April 6 and April 10 respectively. The sixth phase of polls is scheduled to be held on April 22. The results will be declared on May 2, 2021. 

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