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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 10 May 2021 4.35 AM IST

West Bengal Assembly Elections: Voting begins for 5th phase under Covid-19 shadow

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KOLKATA: West Bengal is voting for 45 of 294 constituencies today in the fifth phase of assembly elections, which are being held amid a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.

Ahead of the polls on Saturday, West Bengal reported 6,910 fresh coronavirus cases and 26 deaths in the last 24 hours. The polling began at 7 am on Saturday for 45 assembly seats amid tight security. More than one crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the political fate of 342 candidates.

Long queues were seen outside polling booths where voting is underway adhering to coronavirus guidelines. The polling will continue till 6:30 pm today.

Over 1 crore people will vote in the fifth phase of the West Bengal Assembly election. Voting will be held at 15,789 polling stations in the 45 constituencies. 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.

The Election Commission has decided to deploy at least 853 companies of central forces to ensure free and fair voting. Security measures have been heightened for the fifth phase in view of the violence in the previous phase, which witnessed the death of five people in Cooch Behar district, including four in CISF firing. These 45 seats are spread across districts like North 24 Parganas, Purba Bardhaman, Nadia, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong.

Prominent names in the fifth phase of Bengal election include Siliguri Mayor and Left Front leader Ashok Bhattacharya, state ministers Gautam Deb and Bratya Basu and BJP's Samik Bhattacharya.

The 45 seats where polling will be held on Saturday are Dhupguri (SC), Maynaguri (SC), Jalpaiguri (SC), Rajganj (SC), Abgram-Fulbari, Mal (ST), Nagrakata (ST), Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Kurseong, Matigara-Naxalbari (SC), Siliguri, Phansidewa (ST), Santipur, Ranaghat Uttar Paschim, Krishnaganj (SC), Ranaghat Uttar Purba (SC), Ranaghat Dakshin (SC), Chakdaha, Kalyani (SC), Haringhata (SC), Panihati, Kamarhati, Baranagar, Dum Dum, Rajarhat New Town, Bidhannagar, Rajarhat Gopalpur, Madhyamgram, Barasat, Deganga, Haroa, Minakhan (SC), Sandeshkhali (ST), Basirhat Dakshin, Basirhat Uttar, Hingalganj (SC), Khandaghosh (SC), Bardhaman Dakshin, Raina (SC), Jamalpur (SC), Monteswar, Kalna (SC), Memari and Bardhaman Uttar (SC).

Campaigning for the fifth phase ended on Wednesday with the EC having increased the 'silence period' from 48 to 72 hours in view of the Cooch Behar violence. The first four phases were held on 27 March, 1 April, 6 April and 10 April, respectively. The sixth phase of the state assembly polls is scheduled for 22 April. The counting of votes will take place on 2 May.

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TAGS: WEST BENGAL, ASSEMBLY POLLS, VOTING, FIFTH PHASE, COVID 19 SHADOW, CORONAVIRUS CASES, 342 CANDIDATES
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