Kolkata: Voting for 45 constituencies in West Bengal’s fifth phase Assembly elections began at 7 am to decide the fate of 342 candidates on Saturday amid tight security.
This phase of the elections will witness an intense battle in the 13 constituencies of North Bengal, including five in Darjeeling, one in Kalimpong, and seven in Jalpaiguri.
Voting will be held at 15,789 polling stations in the fifth phase of the elections across the 45 constituencies covering the districts of Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and a segment of Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Purba Bardhaman.
The security for this phase has been beefed up with the deployment of 1,071 companies of central forces for ensuring a peaceful election.
In addition to this, 15,790 state police officials will also be on duty on Saturday.
As many as 118 companies have been deployed for Quick Response Team (QRT), sector office, post-poll situation and strongrooms.
Ahead of the polls on Saturday, West Bengal reported 6,910 new COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths in the last 24 hours.
According to the state health bulletin, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the state stands at 41,047. With 26 more deaths, the toll in West Bengal has reached 10,506.
In the Siliguri constituency, CPI(M)’s Ashok Bhattacharya is the key contestant against BJP candidate Shankar Ghosh and TMC’s Omprakash Mishra. Bhattacharya, the former Mayor of Siliguri is a prominent communist leader in North Bengal.
Senior TMC leader and minister in the state government Bratya Basu is contesting from Dum Dum. CPI(M) has fielded Palash Das and BJP has fielded Bimal Shankar Nanda from the constituency.
Actor Chiranjeet Chakraborty will contest from Barasat on the behalf of TMC against BJP candidate Shankar Chatterjee and Forward Bloc candidate Sanjib Chattopadhyay.
Naxalbari, which is known for an over 50-year-old Maoist movement, has been witnessing a transition from a Red belt into a saffron fabric. While BJP has fielded Anandamoy Barman from the Matigara-Naxalbari constituency, Congress has fielded sitting MLA Sankar Malakar and TMC will rely on Captain Nalini Ranjan Ray. Malakar has been representing the Matigara-Naxalbari Assembly constituency since 2011.
In Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong constituencies, TMC has not fielded its candidate as GJM is backing the TMC.
The first four phases were held on March 27, April 1, April 6 and April 10 respectively. The sixth phase of the state assembly polls is scheduled for April 22. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.