Voting in 61 seats in Assam on in last phase, 31 in Bengal


Kolkata/Guwahati, Apr 11 : Voting is on for the remaining 61 Assembly constituencies in Assam with the Congress, BJP-AGP-BPF alliance and AIUDF locked in a keen contest while 31 seats in West Bengal will also go to polls in the second part of the first phase of election in the state.

As many as 525 candidates are in the fray in this second and final round of voting in Assam. The constituencies spread across lower and central Assam will have 12,699 polling stations where 1,04,35,271 people will be eligible to exercise their franchise.

With over 50,000 polling personnel deployed for the second phase, security has been tightened across the constituencies, particularly those in four Bodoland Territorial Area districts where NDFB(S) ultras are active and in Goalpara district which witnessed a bomb blast recently.

Strict vigil is being maintained in Dhubri district bordering Bangladesh and Baksa sharing border with Bhutan.

Altogether 163 candidates, including 21 women  are in the fray in 31 seats of West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan districts in West Bengal with 70 lakh people eligible to exercise their franchise.

The polling is witnessing a triangular contest among the ruling Trinamool Congress, Left Front-Congress alliance and BJP in the state.

Five-time CPI(M) MLA from Narayangarh and Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra and senior state Congress leader Manas Bhuniya from Sabang are among the major candidates in this phase.

91-year-old Gyan Singh Sohanpal, the senior most member in the West Bengal Assembly, is in the fray again from Kharagpur Sadar seat where he is pitted against BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.

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Two prominent newbies – Bengali film actor Soham Chakraborty and Colonel (retd) Diptanshu Chaudhury, who had fought in the Kargil War – are trying their luck in politics on Trinamool Congress and BJP tickets respectively.

Besides the Saradha chit fund scam, the Opposition has been targeting the ruling TMC on the recent Narada sting operation where party leaders were purportedly seen accepting bribe. Issues related to industrialisation and the ‘Syndicate Raj’ have also been haunting the dispensation.

On the other hand, Trinamool is making a determined bid for a second successive term by harping on ‘development’ and welfare schemes of the Mamata Banerjee government during its maiden five-year rule.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury were among the star campaigners for the opposition parties.

For TMC, party supremo Mamata Banerjee, has urged people to vote thinking “I (Banerjee) am the candidate in all 294 seats”, while campaigning extensively.

Polling will be held at 8,465 polling stations amid tight security.

The first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal and Assam on April 4 passed off peacefully, with a high voter turnout of over 80 per cent.

Polling was held in 18 of the 294 Assembly constituencies in West Bengal and 65 of the 126 seats in Assam.

The polling in the this phase in Assam will witness mainly a triangular contest among the ruling Congress, AIUDF and the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance.

Among prominent candidates in the fray are cabinet ministers Rakibul Hussain, Chandan Sarkar and Nazrul Islam for the Congress, former two-time AGP chief minister Prafulla Mahanta, AIUDF chief and Dhubri MP Badruddin Ajmal and former Congress minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who led a dissidence against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and joined BJP last year.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the campaign for the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance in both phases, addressed four rallies while his ministerial colleagues Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, BJP president Amit Shah and chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal also pitched in.

For the Congress, party president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, state unit chief Anjan Dutta, former UPA ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid and Sachin Pilot campaigned for its candidates.

The campaign in the second phase, which has a predominant minority population in several constituencies, focused primarily on the issue of infiltration.

The BJP pledged to resolve the infiltration issue by completely sealing off the Indo-Bangla border while Congress said there was no Bangladeshi in Assam and it was the Tarun Gogoi government that took initiative to update the National Register of Citizens to resolve the issue.

The AIUDF, on the other hand, highlighted its role as the king-maker.

Notably, Elections in West Bengal are being held in six phases.


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