Phase IV polling: Eight TMC ministers in fray
The ministers who are contesting include Amit Mitra, Bratya Basu, Purnendu Bose, Upen Biswas, Jyotipriyo Mullick, Arup Roy, Rajib Banerjee and Chandrima Bhattacharya. Election will be held in 49 constituencies spread over the 33 seats in North 24 Parganas and 16 seats in Howrah. Polling will take place between 7 am and 6 pm. North 24 Parganas has 8253 booths, while Howrah has 4201.
The Election Commission (EC) has pulled out all stops to ensure free and fair elections. 672 companies of central forces will be deployed. 445 companies will be deployed in North 24 Parganas, while in Howrah there will be 227 companies. The central forces, along with state police, conducted route march at night in sensitive areas. Special arrangements have been made to intensify surveillance along the river. In addition to this 22,000 state police personnel will be deployed to ensure peaceful election.
Chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta on Sunday held a high level meeting with ADG (Law) and other and senior officials of CRPF and took stock of the situation. The EC has identified 2323 vulnerable hamlets in North 24 Parganas and 643 in Howrah. Security arrangements in these areas have been intensified. District administration in the two areas have promulgated prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC, within 100 meters of the polling stations. CCTVs, webcams, video and digital cameras have been put in place. The central forces carried out route march in bordering areas of Bongaon, Hingalgunj and Basirhat. To combat excessive heat, arrangements have been made to supply drinking water and ORS.
Howrah and North 24 Parganas are TMC strongholds and the party will leave no stone unturned to ensure that voters turn up at polling stations in large numbers.
The important constituencies that will witness electoral battle on Monday are Salt Lake and Rajarhat Gopalpur. In Salt Lake, sitting TMC MLA Sujit Basu is pitted against Arunabha Ghosh of Congress. Purnendu Basu will be contesting against veteran CPI(M) leader Nepaldeb Bhattacharya at Rajarhat Gopalpur. Bhattacharya, a close aide of Subhas Chakraborty, had played a major role in Operation Sunshine in 1996. However, he fell from grace and was sidelined.
State Finance Minister Amit Mitra will be contesting against his predecessor Asim Dasgupta from Khardah. All eyes will be on Kamarhati municipality where Madan Mitra, the sitting MLA will be contesting against Manas Mukherjee of CPI(M). Mitra is currently in jail. In his absence, Mitra’s workers have served the people of Kamarhati and there is his fair chance of him retaining the seat. Howrah North, where former cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla of TMC will be fighting against Rupa Ganguly of BJP, is another constituency to look out for. So is Bali, where former BCCI strongman Jagmohan Dalmiya’s daughter Vaishali is contesting.