Kolkata (West Bengal) : The power battle in West Bengal has reached its penultimate stage as polling for the seventh phase of the state assembly elections is going to be held on Monday.
In Phase-VII, 34 assembly constituencies spread across five districts will go to polls. Among these, six are in Dakshin Dinajpur, six in Malda, nine in Murshidabad, nine in Paschim Bardhaman and four in Kolkata.
Over 81.88 lakh electorates, including 39.87 lakh women and 221 third gender persons, would be casting their votes at as many as 11,376 polling stations.
A total of 268 candidates, including 37 women are in the fray in this phase of the West Bengal elections.
Ruling TMC and BJP are contesting on all 34 seats. Congress, the Left parties and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) have made a coalition and are contesting under the banner of Sanyukta Morcha. Out of the 34 seats in this round, Congress has got 18 in its share, CPI(M) got 12, RSP three, AIFB got one and ISF has got four seats.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also trying its luck and has fielded 25 candidates.
The dominance of the Muslim population in the districts of Murshidabad, Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda sets the political dynamics in this region. Traditionally, these districts are considered as Congress bastion.
Berhampore, the administrative headquarters of Murshidabad, is represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
However, the emergence of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and the Indian Secular Force (ISF) has impacted the political gradient in this region.
Development, unemployment and migration remain the core issues in these districts.
In Paschim Bardhaman district, the sizable presence of the non-Bengali population gives the BJP an edge over other parties especially the ruling TMC. The Asansol Lok Sabha constituency is also represented by BJP leader Babul Supriyo.
The divide between Bengali and the non-Bengali population is likely to influence the voting behaviour in this industrial and mining belt.
The BJP is targeting the incumbent TMC over ‘tolabaazi’ (extortion), ‘cut money’ and syndicate raj and appeasement politics. Plus, an air of anti-incumbency can also be felt against the ruling TMC government in the state.
However, the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC is banking upon its welfare schemes like “Duare Sarkar”, “Swastho Sathi” and “Kanyashree”.
In Bhowanipore, the home turf of Chief Minister Mamata, TMC has fielded party heavyweight Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay. Mamata has chosen Nandigram in this election in place of Bhowanipore.
Actor Rudranil Ghosh is standing from Bhowanipore on BJP’s ticket. Md Shadab Khan is the Congress candidate from the seat.
In the Ballygunge constituency, senior TMC leader and minister Subrata Mukherjee is a strong contender against BJP candidate Loknath Chatterjee and CPI(M) candidate Fuad Halim.
Minister in West Bengal Government and TMC top-brass Firhad Hakim is contesting from the Kolkata Port constituency.
BJP has fielded noted economist and former economic adviser to central government Ashok Lahiri from Balurghat constituency. Sekhar Dasgupta and Sucheta Biswas are the TMC and RSP candidates from Balurghat.
CPI(M) has fielded JNU Student Union president Aishe Ghosh from the Jamuria assembly constituency. Ghosh had made national headlines after she was attacked inside JNU premises in 2020.
The Asansol Dakshin constituency carries a glamour quotient as TMC has fielded actor Saayoni Ghosh and BJP fielded designer Agnimitra Paul. In Asansol Uttar, TMC’s Moloy Ghatak has an edge over BJP candidate Krishnendu Mukherjee and RSMP candidate Md Mustakin.
In the Murshidabad constituency, sitting MLA and TMC candidate Shaoni Singha Roy is a strong contender against Niazuddin Sekh of Congress and BJP’s Gouri Sankar Ghosh. Roy, a two-time MLA from the seat, had fought earlier elections as a Congress candidate. She had defeated Ashim Krishna Bhatta of TMC in the 2016 assembly polls.
In Sagardighi constituency in Murshidabad, there is a contest between Congress’ S. K. Hasnuzzaman, BJP’s Mafuja Khatun and TMC’s Subrata Saha.
Polling for phases 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the state elections took place on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17 and April 22 respectively. Polling for the final phase will be held on April 29 while the counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)