In West Bengal, polling for the Fifth Phase of Assembly Elections begins this morning at 7.00 A.M. It will continue till 6.30 P.M. Polling is also being held simultaneously for the By-Elections of two Lok Sabha seats including Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and Belgaum in Karnataka along with 12 Assembly Constituencies spread over nine states.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged the people to vote in large numbers in today’s fifth phase of West Bengal elections. He said the first time voters in particular should exercise their franchise. Mr Modi added that there are by-polls taking place in different parts of the country and asked voters in the seats to vote in record numbers and strengthen the festival of democracy.
All the necessary facilities and security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling during this phase. The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is being used along with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at every Polling Station, with a view to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process and the availability of adequate number of EVMs and VVPATs has already been ensured for the smooth conduct of elections.
In view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the option of Postal Ballot facility has been extended to the electors who are COVID- 19 positive or suspect as certified by competent authority and are in home or institutional quarantine along with those marked as Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and above the age of 80 years. It has also been ensured that every Polling Station is equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) like drinking water, waiting shed, toilet with water facility, adequate arrangements for lighting, ramp of appropriate gradient for the Persons with Disabilities.
The special facilities include mandatory sanitization of Polling Station, thermal checking of voters at entry point either by polling staff or paramedical staff or an Asha worker. If temperature is above the set norms of Health Ministry, then the elector will be provided with token and asked to come for voting at the last hour of poll. At the last hour of poll, such electors will be facilitated for voting, strictly following COVID-19 related preventive measures.
The Commission has deployed 853 companies of Central Armed Police Forces in West Bengal for the Fifth Phase as compared to that in the previous phase. In the previous phase, 789 companies were deployed for 44 Assembly constituencies. The Election Commission sources said that out of these, 283 companies are deployed only in 24 Parganas district. It is intended to prevent recurrence of any untoward incident like Cooch Behar.
In West Bengal, the polling process is already over in respect of 135 out of total 294 Assembly seats in the earlier four phases. The state is witnessing eight-phase elections. During the Fifth Phase of State Assembly Elections, total 319 candidates including 39 women are vying for the 45 Assembly seats spread over six districts.
In West Bengal, total 319 candidates including 39 women are vying for the 45 Assembly seats during the Fifth Phase of State Assembly Elections. Over 1.13 crore voters including 56.11 lakh women and 224 Third Gender persons will decide the fate of these candidates.
In all, 15,789 Polling Stations have been set up for this purpose. Bharatiya Janata Party is contesting for all the 45 seats while ruling AITC is contesting 42 seats. Congress, Left parties and their alliance partner Indian Secular Front are fighting under the banner of Sanyukta Morcha. BSP has fielded 32 candidates, CPI (M) has 25, Congress – 11, AIFB – two, RSP, NPP and CPI one each while there are 83 independents along with 76 others are also in the fray.
The prominent candidates participating in this phase include State Ministers Goutam Deb from Dabgram-Fulbari, Tapas Roy from Baranagar, Bratya Basu from Dumdum and Siddiqullah Chowdhury from Monteswar along with Sujit Bose and former Mayor and BJP candidate Sabyasachi Dutta from Bidhanagar seat.
AITC Chief Whip Nirmal Ghosh from Panihati, Former Ministers Madan Mitra from Kamarhati, Bankim Chandra Ghosh from Chakdaha and Asoke Bhattachrya from Siliguri, Congress leader Sukhbilash Berma from Jalpaiguri, BJP leader Shamik Bhattachrya and singer and AITC candidate Aditi Munshi from Rajarhat-Gopalpur are also in the fray.
Besides, sitting BJP MP Jagannath Sarkar from Shantipur, former MP Dr. Tapas Mondal from Krishnaganj and former CPI (M) MP Alakesh Das from Haringhata along with actor Chiranjeet Chakrobarty from Barasat are also trying their luck.
Polling is also being held simultaneously for the By-Elections of two Lok Sabha seats including Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and Belgaum in Karnataka along with 12 Assembly Constituencies spread over nine states. The ACs going in for the By-Polls include three in Rajasthan, two in Karnataka and one each in Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Telangana and Uttarakhand. There are 151 candidates in the fray for 12 Assembly seats indicating largely multi-cornered contests.
Polling is going on peacefully amid tight security for 32 seats of three districts in South Bengal in this phase. Polling has began at 7am this morning for 16 seats of North 24 Parganas and 8seats each of Nadia and Purba Bardhaman. Voters have been standing in long queues since early morning, hours before the polling started, to cast their votes.
In wake of the surge in Covid cases throughout West Bengal, particularly in North 24parganas, wearing masks and maintaining safe distancing along with other covid protocols are being scrupulously followed in all the booths.
In Odisha, the Bye-Election to Pipili Assembly seat has been postponed following the death of Congress candidate Ajit Mangaraj on Wednesday. Earlier, H. Chuba Chang was declared elected unopposed being the only candidate in fray for the Noksen Assembly seat in Nagaland.
In Andhra Pradesh, there are 28 candidates vying for the Tirupati Lok Sabha Seat. Former Union Minister Dr. Panabaka Lakshmi is the Telugu Desham Party candidate while Chinta Mohan from Congress, K. Ratnaprabha from BJP and Nellore Yadgiri from CPI (M) are among the prominent candidates.
In Karnataka, there are 10 candidates contesting for the Belgaum Lok Sabha seat. BJP has fielded Mangala Angadi, the widow of late Union Minister Suresh Angadi from the seat while Congress has fielded State Working President Satish Jarkiholi against her. Satish Jarkiholi is the sitting MLA from Yamkanmaradi. As far as the Assembly By-Polls are concerned, 12 candidates are vying in Basavakalyan and eight are contesting in Maski Constituency.
In Gujarat, there is a triangular contest for the Morva Hadaf seat involving Nimishaben Suthar of BJP and Sureshbhai Katara of Congress along with an independent Sushilaben Maida. The polling has begun from 7 AM today, which will continue till 6 PM in the evening. The counting of votes will take place on 2nd May. More than 2 lakh voters are eligible to use their franchise in today’s polling.
In Jharkhand, Ganga Narayan Singh of BJP and Hafizul Hassan of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha are locked in an electoral fight while four independent candidates are also in the fray.
In Madhya Pradesh, there are 22 candidates including 16 independents contesting for Damoh Assembly seat. Ruling BJP has fielded Rahul Singh Lodhi while Congress has put up Ajay Kumar Tandon in the contest. AIR correspondent reports, in Damoh, around 2 lakh 40 thousand voters including 1 lakh 24 thousand male and 1 lakh 15 thousand female will decide the fate of 22 candidates.
Around 27 per cent of the voters are between 18 to 29 years age group. One thousand 880 employees have been deployed for conducting the smooth polling process of 359 polling booths in Damoh.
123 polling stations have been identified as critical, while webcasting is being conducted at 219 polling booths. Additional Chief Electoral Officer Arun Kumar Tomar informed that the mask is mandatory for every voter. Soap and sanitizer are also been available at all the polling booths.
In Maharashtra, total 19 candidates including 10 independents are in fray for Pandharpur Assembly seat. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has fielded Bhagirath Bhalke, son of its three-term legislator Bharat Bhalke, as its candidate while BJP has fielded Samadhan Autade in the electoral battle which is marked by the presence of candidates of other political parties as well.
In Mizoram, six candidates, including an independent, are in the fray for the Serchhip seat. The By-Poll was necessitated due to the disqualification of the incumbent MLA Lalduhoma of Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) under the Anti-Defection Law who is participating in the contest again. The other prominent candidates include Vanlalzawma of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), P. C. Laltlansanga of Congress, Lalhriatrenga Chhangte of BJP and Vanlalruata of Mizoram Peoples’ Conference.
In Rajasthan, ten candidates are contesting in Rajsamand while nine candidates are in fray for Sujangarh and eight are there in Sahara Assembly Constituency.
In Telangana, maximum 41 candidates are in fray for the Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly seat including three women and 27 independents. Ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi has fielded Nomula Bhagath, son of the late MLA from this constituency while BJP has fielded Dr. Panugothu Ravi and Congress has given ticket to former Minister and seven-time MLA Kunduru Janareddy.
Meanwhile, the election campaign is gaining momentum in respect of the Sixth Phase with the prominent leaders of different political parties engaging in whirlwind tours for canvassing in favour of their candidates. In all, 43 Assembly Constituencies spread over four districts of West Bengal will go to polls in this phase on 22nd of April.
The campaign has picked up now also for the Seventh as well as the Eighth and Final Phase of the Assembly Elections in West Bengal.
In all, 36 Assembly Constituencies spread over five districts will go to polls in the Seventh Phase on 26th of April while remaining 35 Assembly Constituencies spread over four districts will go to polls in the Eighth Phase on 29th of April. The counting of votes will be taken up together on 2nd of May.