A high-octane electoral campaign for the second phase of West Bengal and Assam assembly polls ended Tuesday evening, setting the stage for the voting on April 1. In Assam, the second phase of state elections will decide the fate of 245 candidates in 39 seats while Bengal will witness voting in 30 constituencies spread across four districts wherein the fate of 171 candidates will be sealed.
- The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) issue was at the forefront of the campaign, with the BJP, which had maintained a studied silence on it in the run up to the first phase of voting, raising it in the Barak Valley this time as a carrot to the predominantly Hindu Bengali population, some of whom have their roots in Bangladesh.
- Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah, in his election rallies at Patharkandi and Silchar, mentioned the controversial legislation, for the first time, assuring that citizenship rights will be given to refugees, while aserting at the same time that the BJP will not allow infiltrators to enter the state.
- The BJP was, particularly, strident in its attack on AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal accusing him of encouraging illegal infiltration, leading to encroachments and “land and love jihad” which the party has promised to tackle.
- After the announcement of poll dates in February end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his campaign from Karimganj in Barak Valley.
- The Barak Valley has 15 seats in the 126-member state assembly.
- Modi also held a rally at Sipajhar from where former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Paramanda Rajbongshi is contesting as the BJP candidate.
- Among the prominent BJP leaders who campaigned for candidates in the second phase are central ministers Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Narendra Tomar, Jitendra Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan among others.
- The BJP, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) are alliance partners.
- The fate of 171 candidates will be decided in the second phase by 75,94,549 voters who will exercise their franchise in 10,620 polling booths spread across the 30 constituencies.
- All the booths where polling will be held in the second phase have been declared as “sensitive” by the EC. It will deploy total 651 companies of Central Armed Police for this phase of election which will be held in Bankura (Part II), Purba Medinipur (Part II), Paschim Medinipur (Part II) and South 24 Parganas (Part I), they said.
- A total 199 companies of CAPF will be deployed in Purba Medinipur, 210 companies in Paschim Medinipur, 170 in South 24 Parganas and 72 in Bankura, the sources said.
- The final day of the campaigning saw hectic canvassing for the Nandigram seat in Purba Medinipur district where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is facing BJP leader and her former follower Suvednu Adhikari.
- Union Home Minister Amit Shah held roadshows with Bengal’s megastar Mithun Chakraborty in support of Adhikari in Nandigram during the day, while Banerjee, who is confined to a wheel chair following her injury which she had sustained while campaigning in the constituency, criss-crossed it addressing rallies at several venues.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda had led BJP’s campaign from the front addressing rallies at Kanthi and Nandigram and urging the electorate to vote for the saffron party to usher in ‘ashol poriborton’ (actual change) to build ‘Sonar Bangla’ (prosperous Bengal).
- Modi in his rallies had attacked the TMC government and Banerjee, accusing her of “appeasement politics” and asserting that “khela shesh hobe” (game will be over).
- Other star campaigners of the BJP stressed on various scams of the ruling Trinamool Congress – from the Saradha and Narada tape scam to the recent allegations over the siphoning of funds for Amphan relief and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- They highlighted the achievements of the BJP-led government at the Centre in their rallies and blamed the TMC government for not allowing schemes like the Ayushman Bharat, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to be implemented in the state, where the BJP leaders claimed corruption and anarchy are prevalent.
- Banerjee, who has chosen to contest from Nandigram instead of from her home seat Bhowanipore in the city, stayed put there and campaigned from her wheelchair.
- The feisty politician held two back-to-back rallies in Paschim Medinipur despite the early summer heat urging people to vote for TMC so that the development work taken up there by the government continued.
- Banerjee, who was accmpanied by TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee attacked on the Adhikary family, calling them “gaddars” (traitors) and “Mir Jafars” and asked people not to vote for them.
- “Bangla wants her own daughter (Mamata). So vote for her,” Abhishek Banerjee urged in his meetings. (With PTI inputs)