Kolkata: Amid the massive surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, voting in 34 constituencies spread across five districts of West Bengal began at 7 am on Monday for the seventh phase of the Assembly elections.
A total of 268 candidates, including 37 women are in the fray in this phase of the West Bengal elections.
The phase will witness an intense battle in six constituencies in Dakshin Dinajpur, six in Malda, nine in Murshidabad, nine in Paschim Bardhaman and four in Kolkata.
Over 81.88 lakh electorates, including 39.87 lakh women and 221 third gender persons, would be casting their votes at as many as 11,376 polling stations.
Ahead of the polls, West Bengal had 81,375 active Covid 19 cases on Sunday, according to Union Health Ministry and Family Welfare. As many as 10,884 people have lost their lives due to the deadly virus in the state.
The rapid upsurge of coronavirus had forced the Election Commission to prohibit roadshows, ‘padyatras’ and big public meetings in poll-bound West Bengal from Thursday evening.
Contestants for seventh phase
In the seventh phase, from 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.
West Bengal is going through an eight-phased assembly election this year. Polling for phases 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the state elections took place on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17 and April 22 respectively. Polling for the final phase will be held on April 29 while the counting of votes will take place on May 2.