West Bengal gears up for sixth phase amid Covid shadow, voting to be held in 43 seats | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: The stage is set for the sixth phase of polling in West Bengal on Thursday which will be held under the shadow of a raging coronavirus pandemic which has led to an unprecedented surge in cases in the state.
This will be the third last round in the eight-phase elections in West Bengal. The EC had rejected the suggestion by the TMC to club the remaining phases of the elections in the state.
Here’s all you need to know about the sixth phase polling …
43 seats to go to polls
Voting will be held in 43 of the 294 constituencies on Thursday where over crore voters will decide the fate of 306 candidates.
The polling will take place at 14,480 polling stations across the assembly segments in four districts.
This phase will witness stiff competition between the ruling Trinamool Congress and its main rival BJP.
Both the TMC and the BJP have pitched hard to gain the confidence of Matuas, who make for a large chunk of the state’s Scheduled Caste population, in most of the 17 assembly segments going to polls in this phase in North 24 Parganas district and some of the nine seats in Nadia.
Apart from these constituencies, elections will be held in nine seats in Uttar Dinajpur district and eight in Purba Bardhaman.
Prominent faces
Prominent names in the sixth phase of the assembly polls include BJP’s national vice president Mukul Roy, TMC ministers Jyotipriyo Mallick and Chandrima Bhattacharya and CPM leader Tanmay Bhattacharya.
The political fate of film director Raj Chakraborty and actor Koushani Mukherjee, who are the TMC’s candidates from the Barrackpore and the Krishnanagar North constituencies respectively, will also be decided in this phase.
Security tightened
Security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, particularly the death of five people in Cooch Behar in the fourth phase of polling on April 10, an Election Commission official said.
The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 1,071 companies of central forces in the sixth phase to ensure free and fair voting, he said.
It will also put in place measures to ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols during the voting process, the official said.
West Bengal on Wednesday registered its highest single-day spike of 10,784 new Covid-19 cases.
High-voltage campaigning
Despite the Covid-19 infections surging across India as well as the state, both the BJP and TMC held a few rallies to woo voters ahead of the sixth phase.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, BJP chief J P Nadda and Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty led the campaign of the saffron party, which has fortified into TMC’s main challenger in this election.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee spearheaded the TMC campaign along with her nephew and party’s youth wing chief Abhishek Banerjee.
The Election Commission had curtailed daily campaign hours and extended the “silence period” from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the remaining three phases of the assembly polls in view of the Cooch Behar violence and the rising Covid-19 cases in the state.
No change in poll schedule: EC
Meanwhile, the poll panel on Wednesday ruled out any change in the schedule of the West Bengal assembly polls and told the Trinamool Congress that its suggestion to club the last three of the eight phases is “not feasible”.
The EC also told West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury that his demand to hold the remaining phases of polls in West Bengal after the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan is over and the present pandemic is diluted, is not acceptable as the term of the state assembly ends on May 30 and a new assembly has to be constituted before that.
“Any postponement of scheduled elections would affect adherence to Constitutional and statutory provisions related to timely conduct of elections,” the Congress leader was told.
Results on May 2
Elections have been held in 180 constituencies so far, and the remaining 114 seats are set to go to polls between April 22 and 29.
The counting for West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry elections till take place on May 2.
(With inputs from PTI)

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