Kolkata, Apr 29 UNI | 3 months ago

A number of celebrities are among 87 contestants in nine constituencies that will go for poll tomorrow in the third of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal.

Spread over four districts in south Bengal, the constituencies where polling will be held are Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly, Arambagh, Bardhaman(Purba), Bardhaman-Durgapur, Bolpur and Birbhum

Prominent among the candidates, including 13 women, are popular musician-singer Bappi Lahiri, Bengali film actress Shatabdi Roy and film actor Joy Banerjee , journalist and BJP national executive member Chandan Mitra, former captain of the Indian football team Prasun Banerjee and film actor George Baker.

Altogether 1,39,43,063 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 17,330 polling booths, 173 of which will be run by women.

In the industrial belt of Howrah, sitting MP Prasun Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress is locked in a fight with CPI(M) state secretariat member Sridip Bhattacharya and BJP nominee George Baker, among others, in a six-cornered contest. While Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee defends his Sreerampur seat against BJP candidate Bappi Lahiri , Congress leader Abdul Mannan and CPI(M) youth leader Tirthankar Roy.

In Hooghly, Chandan Mitra is pitted against, sitting MP Ratna De Nag of the Trinamool Congress in a four-cornered fight while in Birbhum Ms Roy seeks reelection on Trinamool Congress ticket fighting it out with CPI(M)'s Kamre Elahi and fellow actor Joy Banerjee of the BJP.

In 2009, the Trinamool Congress won five of these nine seats--Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly and Birbhum and the CPI(M) won the rest.

While the CPI(M) tries hard to retrieve some of its lost ground, sniffing its future in Bengal, the BJP has gone all out for a better performance in selected constituencies this time.

The BJP has particularly targetted Howrah, Sreerampur, Hooghly and Birbhum where the party has put in all might during electioneering.

The biggest draw for the party was its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who in recent rallies went for a frontal offensive against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issues of Saradha chit fund scam and the state's law and order situation.

Election office said polling personnel had already left for the constituencies along with EVMs and other materials.

The EC has engaged general observers, expenditure observers, police observers and micro-observers to conduct the election smoothly .

Arrangements have been made for webcasting and live monitoring of sensitive areas.

(Posted on 29-04-2014)