Voting begins in 475 Assembly constituencies in four states, one UT

New Delhi: Polling began at 7 am on Tuesday for one of the busiest days in the ongoing Assembly election in all four states and one Union Territory – West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. 

Polling is being held for a total of 475 of the total 824 assembly constituencies across the states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and the Union territory of Puducherry.

While for West Bengal, the day marks the third in an eight-phase election, in Assam it is the third and final phase of voting. The remaining states/UT –Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are witnessing a single-phase polling. Counting for all the polls will be held on May 2. 

The polling in West Bengal and Assam had commenced from March 27. The last phase of West Bengal polls will take on April 29. The counting of votes for elections to four states and one UT will be held on May 2.

As many as 18.68 crore electors will cast vote at 2.7 lakh polling stations in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, Arora had said during a press conference here.

The CEC added that the polling time has been increased by one hour and the postal ballot has been extended to voters above age of 80, people with disabilities and people involved in essential services. “Adequate CAPFs deployment shall be ensured during elections. All critical, vulnerable polling stations have been identified and an adequate number of CAPFs will be deployed,” CEC Sunil Arora said.

All you need to know about the polling in four states, Puducherry

Assam: The term of the 14th legislative assembly of Assam is up to May 31, 2021. The Assembly elections for 126 seats are being held in three phases. First phase took place on March 27, second phase took place on April 1 and the final phase of the Assam polls is being held today.

In 2016 Assembly polls were held in two phases.

This phase will decide the fate of 337 candidates across 40 constituencies of 12 districts in the state, including the senior minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Hemanta Biswa Sarma in the Jalukbari constituency.

There are a total of 12 female candidates and 325 male candidates in the fray, whose fates will be decided by 79,19,641 general electors in the third phase. Of these, 40,11,539 are males, 39,07,963 females and 139 are other genders. There are also 24,460 are service voters.

Apart from Hemanta Biswa Sarma, BJP minister Chandra Mohan Patowary from Dharampur, education minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya from Gauhati East, and BJP state chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass from Patacharkuchi are also in the fray in the state.

The fates of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) candidate Phanibhushan Choudhary from Bongaigaon, Bodoland People’s Front’s (BPF) Pramila Rani Brahma from Kokrajhar-East, and Chandan Brahma from Sidli, independent candidate and Lok Sabha MP Naba Hira Kumar Sarania from Barama will also be decided.

From BJP, MLAs Atul Bora from Dispur, and Suman Haripriya from Hajo are also in the fray. The fate of sitting Congress MLA Rekibuddin Ahmed, former AGP MLA Kamala Kalita from Chaygaon, and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) working president Pabindra Deka from Pathacharkuchi will also be decided in the third phase.

Barama constituency, from where Kokrajhar’s Lok Sabha MP Naba Kumar Sarania is contesting the polls as an Independent candidate will also go into polling in the last phase.

Kerala: The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts is being held in a single phase on April 6.

The tenure of the 14th Kerala legislative assembly will come to an end on June 1, 2021. A total of 2,67,88,268 electors will elect the candidates in Kerala for the 15th legislative assembly.

For Assembly poll 2021, the number of polling booths in Kerala has been extended from 21,498 to 40,771. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.

According to the commission, of the 140 Assembly seats, 14 seats are reserved for SC category and two are reserved for ST category candidates.

The state is ruled by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), which had won 91 seats in the 2016 Assembly elections defeating the United Democratic Front that bagged only 47 seats. BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, the third constituent in the triangular contest the state is headed into. The presence of the BJP, which is positioning itself as a political alternative with candidates like the Metroman ‘E Sreedharan’ will impact the attempts made by both the LDF and the UDF to swing the constituencies to their favour.

A string of high profile campaigners like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani, Nirmala Sitharaman Union Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, CPI(M) leaders Brinda Karat, Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, and many more national leaders campaigned for their parties.

Puducherry: Polling for 30 assembly seats in Puducherry is being held today. Of the 30 Assembly seats, five are reserved for the Scheduled Caste candidates. As many as 10,02,589 electors will choose the candidates for the 15 legislative Assembly of Puducherry.

The Congress-led government in the Union Territory fell before completing its five-year term under the Chief Minister V Narayansamy.

Narayanasamy had resigned on February 22 ahead of a floor test in the 33-member House (including three nominated) following the resignations of five Congress and one Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) legislators. On February 23, President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignation of Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and his council of ministers.

Kiran Bedi was replaced as Puducherry L-G with Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan being given the additional charge of the Union Territory.

Campaigning for assembly polls in Puducherry ended on Sunday with all the players including the NDA and Congress-DMK alliances putting in their best efforts to woo voters in 30 assembly seats for the polls on April 6.

The Union Territory is witnessing a tough battle essentially between these two alliances. The National Democratic Alliance in the Puducherry is a rare case where the BJP is not the largest constituent of the alliance. The BJP is contesting on nine seats with the alliance led by the All India NR Congress contesting on 16 seats, and the AIADMK on five seats.

The Congress, whose government in the Union Territory fell in February before completing its five-year term under the Chief Minister V Narayansamy, has also ceded its ground to its allies in Puducherry, giving 13 seats to the DMK and one each to the Communist Party of India and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. The party skipped fielding former Chief Minister Narayanasamy and is contesting on only 14 out of its 15 seats.

Congress has not fielded any candidate from Yanam constituency, the second seat from where AINRC chief N Rangasamy is contesting. To Narayanasamy, the party has given the responsibility of campaign and election management.

Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu assembly elections is being held today in a single phase.

The term of the fifteenth legislative assembly in Tamil Nadu is ending on May 2. As many as 6,28,23,749 electors will choose candidates for the sixteenth legislative assembly in Tamil Nadu.

Ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is contesting the poll in a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). MK Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has joined hands with Congress. This time actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan’s party Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) and T. T. V. Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) is also in the fray.

Polling across 234 Assembly constituencies in 38 districts of Tamil Nadu will begin at 7 am on Tuesday. A total of 3,998 candidates are in the poll fray. In view of COVID-19, the number of polling stations has been increased to 88,937. The counting of votes will be done on May 2.

The state is witnessing a fierce battle between arch-rivals All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). MK Stalin-led DMK, which is out of power since 2011 in the state, is in a head-to-head battle with ruling party AIADMK in nearly 130 constituencies.

The AIADMK launched scathing attacks against the DMK for practising dynastic politics and promised development. On the other side, Stalin has called the AIADMK government a slave to the BJP and alleged corruption during its tenure. Stalin said the AIDMK government has taken Tamil Nadu back 50 years.

In Tamil Nadu, the people have traditionally seen the DMK and the AIADMK hold power alternately since 1967. However, AIADMK emerged victorious in the last two Assembly elections. This is the first Assembly elections being held without two veterans of Tamil Nadu politics, M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa.

West Bengal: In the high stake West Bengal polls, voting for this phase will be held in 31 Assembly constituencies in three districts – eight in Hooghly, seven in Howrah and 16 in South 24 Parganas.

There are 205 candidates in the fray in this round of polling, with Diamond Harbour having the maximum number of candidates at 11.

Among the most high-profile candidates, it is BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta contesting from Tarakeswar constituency in Hooghly. Dasgupta, a noted journalist and a Padma Bhushan awardee has been a Rajya Sabha member who resigned recently to contest the Assembly polls.

In the Arambagh constituency, TMC has fielded Sujata Mondal Khan against CPI(M)’s Sakti Mohan Malik and BJP’s Madhusudhan Bag. The interesting fact is Sujata Mondal Khan is the wife of BJP MP Saumitra Khan.

Of the three districts, South 24 Parganas has a significant importance for both the top parties in the fray – Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Diamond Harbour is the parliamentary constituency of TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

In the 2016 Assembly elections, TMC had bagged 29 seats and the Left Front won two seats out of these 31 seats in South Parganas. Talking about vote share in the last Assembly election, TMC had secured 50 per cent, the Left Front had 37 per cent and the BJP got 7 per cent.

In this phase out of the total number of electorates, 39,93,280 are men, 38,58,902 are women and 243 are of other genders. There are 8,840 polling stations and 2,391 auxiliary polling stations throughout the 31 constituencies. There are 10,871 Control Units, VVPATs and Ballot Units individually.

For the Assembly Elections 2021, the Election Commission has issued a protocol for voting. All poll officials will be vaccinated against Covid-19 before elections for five assembly polls, the commission said.

ECI guidelines for the upcoming elections include– door-to-door campaigning to be restricted to five persons including the candidate, polling officials to be vaccinated, separate norms for suspected COVID-19 patients.

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