Over one crore voters in West Bengal will decide the political fate of 342 candidates on Saturday, when 45 assembly constituencies go to polls in the fifth phase, amid a raging second wave of COVID-19.
Security measures have been heightened for phase five in view of the violence in the previous phase, which witnessed the death of five people in Cooch Behar, including four in CISF firing.
The Election Commission has decided to deploy at least 853 companies of central forces to ensure free and fair voting, an official of the poll panel said.
Here are the live udpates:
Polling begins, fate of 342 candidates to be sealed
The polling for the fifth phase of West Bengal assembly elections began at 7 am on Saturday, April 17, 2021 across 45 assembly segments amid tight security.
Long queues were seen outside polling booths where voting is underway adhering to COVID-19 protocols, official sources said.
Over one crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the political fate of 342 candidates.
The polling will continue till 6:30 pm.
Central forces deployed
1071 companies of central forces for polling
The Election Commission of India has deployed 1,071 companies of Central forces for polling in 45 Assembly seats across six districts of the State on Saturday. Going by the deployment of Central armed police forces in the four earlier phases, this is the highest ever deployment of forces. This is also the highest number of Assembly seats going to polls in any phase in the marathon eight phase election in the State.
In North 24 Parganas, over 280 companies of Central forces have been deployed for 16 Assembly seats. Darjeeling has about 142 companies. Purba Bardhaman, where eight seats are going to the polls, will have 155 companies, and Nadia district, where a similar number of seats are going to the polls, will have 151 companies. Thirteen seats in north Bengal are spread across three districts — five in Darjeeling, seven in Jalpaiguri and one in Kalimpong. In south Bengal, 16 seats are spread across North 24 Parganas, and there are eight each in Nadia and Bardhaman.
Amid tall poll promises, distress looms over north Bengal tea gardens
Over the past few elections, Benam Oraon, a tea garden worker at Nagrakata Tea Estate in West Bengal, attended several election meetings and kept a note of the promises which political parties made. This election, however, he is contesting the polls as a candidate from Nagrakata Assembly seat in Jalpaiguri district representing an unregistered Progressive People’s Party .
“My election symbol is football. This is to give a message that tea garden workers have been treated like a football by the political parties,” the tea garden worker said.
Jorasanko a prestige battle for BJP
In the tightly poised 11 seats in Kolkata city where the Trinamool Congress has held ground in the past, the BJP is hoping to make headway this time around and one of the seats its hopes are pinned on is the ancestral home of the Tagore family, Jorasanko.
The area’s fame outside of Kolkata is its connection to the Tagore family, the Thakur Bari or mansion of the Tagore family, former home to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and currently a museum.