Crucial 3rd phase polling today, acid test for alliance
Over 1.37 crore electorate will seal the fate of 418 candidates, including 34 female, who are in the fray during third phase of elections for 62 seats spread over Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan districts and north Kolkata.
Of the 62 constituencies, 22 are in Murshidabad, 17 in Nadia, 16 in Burdwan and seven in Kolkata North. An unprecedented 750 companies of Central Forces have been deployed to ensure free and fair election. Of this, 70 companies will be deployed only for Kolkata. Along with this, 25,000 state police personnel will be deployed. Dibyendu Sarkar, additional CEO said there would be one state police personnel outside the polling station to maintain the queue. The booths will be manned by the Central Force personnel whose number would be increased. There are 274 model polling stations out of which 100 would be in Burdwan, 85 in Nadia, 55 in Murshidabad while 34 such stations have been set up in Kolkata.
Senior EC officials said that there would be CCTVs, VVPATs, RT mobile and static surveillance teams to ensure peaceful election. The election will start at 7 am and continue 6 pm.
The EC has increased the number of general observers to three for Murshidabad. There will be 3,376 micro observers. There will be 10,006 polling premises all of which will be manned by the Central Forces. Two hundred twenty checkpoints have been set up, of which 72 are in Kolkata.
Thursday’s election is an acid test for the alliance. In Murshidabad, which is considered a fiefdom of WBPCC president Adhir Chowdhury, the alliance has not worked well with the CPI(M) and RSP having fielded their candidates. The situation has turned from bad to worse as CPI(M) is backing the Congress candidate against the RSP nominee.
In some constituencies, CPI(M) is fighting against Congress which leaders of the alliance have termed friendly fights. Out of 22 seats, the alliance has not worked in 11 seats. In Murshidabad, TMC has gained momentum and is likely to bag two to three seats, political experts said. But the Left Front allies are not happy with the alliance and Adhir Chowdhury said last week that if the alliance failed to yield desirable results, then Left Front should squarely take the blame.
In Burdwan, TMC minister Rabi Ranjan Chatterjee is contesting from Burdwan South. In 2011, he defeated the then industry minister Nirupam Sen. It will be a tough fight this time.
Two Cabinet ministers, Shashi Panja and Sadhan Pandey will be contesting against their Left Front rivals. Political experts said that Jorasanko seat was dicey for Trinamool Congress this year. Narada sting operation and collapse of the Vivekananda Road flyover might go against the sitting MLA.
TMC is trying hard to retain Smita Bakshi, the sitting MLA. She is pitted against Rahul Sinha, former BJP state president. Of the seven seats in the city where election will take place on Thursday, all eyes are set on Chowringhee seat where veteran Congress leader Somen Mitra is fighting against Nayana Bandopadhyay.