Fourth phase poll in Bengal amid heightened security
Amid heightened security for the once Maoist dominated Jangalmahal area , six West Bengal constituencies would go to poll in the fourth of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections tomorrow.
The election in Bankura, Jhargram, Purulia, Medinipur, Bishnupur and Asansol spread over four districts, are also being held under stepped up vigilance of the Election Commission following opposition clamour against rigging and malpractices in the third phase.
Bollywood playback singer Babul Supriyo, former Bengali film actors Sandhya Roy and Moon Moon Sen and veteran CPI(M) leader Basudeb Achariya are among the 72 contestants involved in the fray.
An electorate of 88,77,071 comprising 4608838 men and 42,68,191 women, are expected to press EVM buttons in the 11361 polling booths.
In 2009, the Left Front, then in power in the state won all these six seats even though riding a strong anti-establishment wave, led by Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress and its ally Congress won most of the 42 seats in the state.
After the Trinamool Congress came to power, the political scene changed further with the ruling party expanding its area of command even in the erstwhile red bastions. While the Left, with their back against the wall, fights to retain the seats, the vigorous attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make a foray in West Bengal has made the situation somewhat fluid.
The party's electioneering drew surging crowds in places like Bankura and Asansol where the party's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed rallies.
In Bankura, nine-time winner Basudeb Acharia defends his seat against film actress and Trinamool Congress rival Srimati Deb Barma (Moon Moon Sen), while Prabodh Panda, the sitting MP of the CPI, faces the main challenge from actress Sandhya Roy, who makes her electoral debut in Medinipur. Asansol will witness an abosorbing battle with sitting MP Bansagopal Choudhury of the CPI(M) being pitted against Trinamool Congress trade union leader Dola Sen and popular playback singer Babul Supriyo of the BJP.
Elaborate security arrangement has been made for the election with deployment of 341 companies of central forces besides helicopters, bomb detection and disposal squad and anti-landmine devices being engaged for smooth and peaceful polling.
Area domination, route marches and flag marches have also been undertaken in the Jangalmahal area comprising parts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts.
Two helicopters have been kept on standby for the three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia along with medical support teams.
Besides this, 10 satellite phones have been provided for authorities to improve communication.
In view of the sensitive nature of the region, the EC has reduced polling time by two hours in the Assembly segments of Jhargram, Binpur and Bandwan under Jhargram Parliamentary constituency, and Balarampur, Baghmundi and Jaypur under Purulia Parliamentary constituency.
Flooded with a flurry of consistent complaints of malpractices during third phase of polling on April 30, the EC directed for the posting of central paramilitary personnel at the entry of all polling stations. Acting on the allegation of the opposition parties that their polling agents had been driven out by Ttrinamool Congress men, the poll panel also directed the state police and the chief electoral officer that a movement sheet of all polling agents be maintained.
(Posted on 07-05-2014)