Stage set as Cooch Behar, Alipurduar await first phase of polls
Kolkata: The stage is set for the first day of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, which will see the Cooch Behar (SC) and Alipurduar (ST) seats go to poll.
Around 9,000 state armed police personnel will be deployed along with 46 companies of Central Forces in the two districts. Interestingly, Abhishek Gupta, Superintendent of Police, Cooch Behar, was taken off election duty a day before the poll.
Cooch Behar and Alipurduar are important seats for both Trinamool Congress and BJP. Both Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with BJP national president Amit Shah, had attended meetings in support of their respective candidates in the two districts.
Trinamool Congress has fielded Paresh Adhikary in the Cooch Behar (SC) seat, against Nitish Pramanick of BJP and Govinda Roy of RSP, while Congress has nominated Priya Roychowdhury.
Meanwhile, in the Alipurduar (ST) seat, Trinamool has fielded Dasarath Tirkey against John Barla of BJP. Left Front has fielded Mili Oraon, while Congress has fielded Mohanlal Basumata.
There are 16,09,902 voters in the Cooch Behar (SC) seat, while in the Alipurduar (ST) seat, the count is 14,98,809.
In 2014, Trinamool Congress candidate Renuka Sinha had defeated her nearest rival Dipak Roy of Left Front by 87,107 votes. Sinha died and Partha Pratim Roy was elected in the by-election in 2016. Roy was dropped from the seat and Trinamool has replaced him with Paresh Adhikary, a minister in the Left Front-led government between 2006 and 2011.
Hem Chandra Burman of BJP had received 2,17,653 votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Though the BJP wave has waned now, the party
has engaged all its national leaders to campaign for its candidate.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) said every step has been taken to ensure
free and fair elections. The Central Forces are conducting route march in both the districts.
There are 3,844 polling stations in the two districts. Of these, Cooch Behar has 2,010, while Alipurduar has 1,834. Both Trinamool and BJP have requested voters to go to the polling stations early in the morning to cast their votes. Polling will start at 7 am and continue till 5 pm.