Countdown begins: Bengal gears up for Phase-III polls

The countdown for the next innings of the ‘Khela’ (game) of power in West Bengal has begun as the third phase of the Assembly polls will be held on Tuesday.

A total of 31 Assembly constituencies in districts including eight in Hooghly, seven in Howrah and 16 in South 24 Parganas will go to polls in phase-III. There are 205 candidates in the fray in this round of polling. However, when it comes to women representation, there are only 13 women candidates contesting in this phase, merely six per cent.

Among the most high-profile candidates, it is BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta contesting from the Tarakeswar constituency in Hooghly. Dasgupta, a noted journalist and a Padma Bhushan awardee has been a Rajya Sabha member who resigned recently to contest the West Bengal Assembly polls. Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a poll campaign rally in Tarakeswar recently.

Dasgupta will take on TMC’s Ramendu Singha Roy and CPI(M)’s Surajit Ghosh from the constituency.

In Howrah’s Shyampur, BJP has fielded actor Tanushree Chakraborty against TMC’s sitting MLA Kalipada Mandal. Congress has fielded Amitabha Chakraborty, whom Mandal had defeated over 26,000 votes in the 2016 Assembly elections.

In the Arambagh constituency, TMC has fielded Sujata Mondal Khan against CPI(M)’s Sakti Mohan Malik and BJP’s Madhusudhan Bag. The interesting fact is Sujata Mondal Khan is the wife of BJP MP Saumitra Khan. Sujata joined TMC ahead of the state Assembly polls, following which her husband Saumitra served a divorce notice to her.

In Hooghly’s Jangipara constituency, BJP has fielded Debjit Sarkar against TMC’s Snehashis Chakraborty.

In Raidighi constituency in South 24 Parganas district, CPI(M) veteran Kanti Ganguly will take on TMC’s Alok Jaldata and BJP’s Shantanu Bapuli.

In Diamond Harbour Assembly constituency, there is a contest between BJP’s Dipak Haldar, TMC’s Pannalal Halder and CPI(M)’s Pratik Ur Rahman. Diamond Harbour is the parliamentary constituency of TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

In the 2016 Assembly elections, TMC had bagged 29 seats and the Left Front won two seats out of these 31 seats, which will be going to polls in the third phase on Tuesday. Talking about vote share in the last Assembly election, TMC had secured 50 per cent, the Left Front had 37 per cent and the BJP got 7 per cent.

In the constituencies of South 24 Parganas development, employment and the havoc caused by cyclone Amphan are counted among the key issues. On the other hand, in the constituencies of Howrah and Hooghly, there has been visible development but it is the lack of employment opportunities that haunt the ruling TMC.

Though TMC finds itself strong in these seats, an air of anti-incumbency still can be felt here.

While the BJP is targeting TMC over the issues of corruption in Amphan relief fund, ‘syndicate raj’ and appeasement politics, TMC is banking on its welfare schemes like ‘Duare Sarkar’, ‘Swastho Sathi’ and ‘Kanyashree’ to counter the anti-incumbency wave. Meanwhile, the Left Front, which had its dominion in these areas once, has fielded 16 candidates. And, the Congress and the ISF have got seven and eight seats respectively in their share in the third phase.

Polling for the first two phases of the West Bengal elections were held on March 27 and April 1 respectively. The next phase of polling will take place on April 6. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

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