Polling 49 seats in the fourth phase of assembly elections in West Bengal began on Monday morning amid tight security measures.
The survey was conducted in the two northern districts of 24 Parganas and Howrah – both of them considered impregnable citadel of the ruling Trinamool Congress’ – with the positive part of the content of its 2011 figure of 44 seats in these two districts.
More than 1.08 million voters around Rs 12,481 polling stations, including 27 auxiliary booths are eligible to decide the fate of 345 candidates, including 40 women.
While the Trinamool and the BJP are contesting in all constituencies, the front left components, and Congress are in E l fray in 46 seats, leaving Howrah Janata Dal Central-Kingdom and Domjur an independent Protima Dutta.
Political heavyweights all fields are in contention at this stage, which includes seven ministers – five of them North 24 Parganas alone.
The ministers whose fate would be decided in the 4th phase are Amit Mitra (Khardah), Jyotipriya Mallick (Habra), Bratya Basu (Dum Dum), Purnendu Basu (Rajarhat-Gopalpur), Chandrima Bhattacharya (Dum Dum North), Arup Roy ( central) Howrah and Rajib Bandopadhyay (Domjur).
Bidhan Nagar Mayor and current MLA of Rajarhat New Town, Sabyasachi Dutta, is another heavyweight TMC.
Also, CPI (M) ‘s Asim Dasgupta (Khardaha), Rupa Ganguly BJP (Howrah North) and Congress’ Arunabha Ghosh (Rajarhat New Town) are also contesting the elections.
All eyes will be on transport and jailed former sports minister Madan Mitra, who is contesting from the seat Kamarhati in North 24 Parganas district.
Mitra was arrested by the CBI in December 2014 in the rupee Saradha scam chit fund several crores. Interestingly, despite being a registered voter will not be allowed to cast his vote because of incarceration.
Following reports of violence in the third phase of voting that left at least one former worker CPI-M, the Electoral Commission has taken unprecedented security measures for this phase.
In total, 90,000 security personnel, including central forces have been deployed to ensure free and fair elections. Individual intervention includes patrolling at night and even on the river, which is being done for the first time in this election.
So far, voters in 167 of 294 state assembly constituencies have exercised their right to franchise on April 4, 11,17 and 21 in the first three phases.
Voting phases, fifth and sixth will be held on April 30 and May 5, 53 and 25 constituencies respectively.