Kolkata: Amid surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, voting began on Thursday morning for the eighth and last phase of the ongoing assembly elections in West Bengal.
As many as 283 candidates, including 35 women, are in the fray in the last phase of the assembly elections where polling is being held in 35 constituencies in four districts.
The 35 constituencies are spread across four districts. Among these, six are in Malda, eleven in Birbhum, eleven in Murshidabad and seven in Kolkata.
Over 84.77 lakh electorates, including 41.21 lakh women and 158 third gender persons, would be casting their votes at as many as 11,860 polling stations in phase VIII.
Ruling All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) and BJP are contesting on all 35 seats. Congress, the Left parties and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) have made a coalition and are contesting under the banner of Sanyukta Morcha. Out of the 35 seats in this round, Congress has 19 in its share, CPI(M) has 10, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) has one, All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) has three and ISF has four seats. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also trying its luck and has fielded 24 candidates.
The dominance of the Muslim population in the districts of Murshidabad and Malda sets the political dynamics in this region. Traditionally, these districts are considered as the Congress bastion.
Berhampore, the administrative headquarters of Murshidabad, is represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. However, the emergence of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and the Indian Secular Force (ISF) has impacted the political gradient in this region.
Development, unemployment and migration remain the core issues in these districts.
The BJP is targeting the incumbent TMC over ‘tolabaazi’ (extortion), ‘cut money’ and syndicate raj and appeasement politics. Plus, an air of anti-incumbency can also be felt against the ruling TMC government in the state.
However, the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC is banking upon its welfare schemes like “Duare Sarkar”, “Swastho Sathi” and “Kanyashree”.
West Bengal is undergoing an eight-phased Assembly election. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.