Around 171 candidates are contesting in the second phase –– 43 of them with pending criminal cases.
Nandigram saw a high-decibel battle between the CM and Adhikari, with the latter calling her a “begum” and “khala” and claiming he would win by 50,000 votes. On Tuesday, the last day of campaign, Banerjee, who injured her foot in Nandigram, stood up on one leg, and asked people to “keep their cool and vote for Trinamool”. The Election Commission (EC) has imposed Section 144 in Nandigram till Friday night and said it has started air surveillance with a helicopter.
The TMC had raised concerns about Adhikari allegedly bringing in people from other states to influence voters. Nearly 22 companies of central forces are being deployed in the constituency, which has 355 polling booths.
The other interesting contest is in Debra in Paschim Medinipur where two former IPS officers Bharati Ghosh and Humayun Kabir will fight it out. Once the SP of Paschim Medinipur, who also controlled the party administrative affairs for TMC, Ghosh was close to the CM till she defected to the BJP over differences with her. Kabir, whose parents still live in Debra, has projected himself as the son of the soil.
Unemployment, local corruption, shortage of water are major issues which voters of the four seats of Sunderbans confront.
Six-time Congress MLA and former president of Congress’ West Bengal unit, Manas Bhunia, is the TMC candidate from Sabang in Paschim Medinipur that is likely to see a three-cornered contest. Cricketer Ashok Dinda is pitted against Sangram Kumar Dolai, a sitting MLA. Dinda in 2016 had won the Tamluk seat from CPI by a slender margin.
Actors Soham Chakraborty and Sayantika Banerjee are contesting for Chandipur and Bankura respectively from TMC while actor Hiranmoy Chattopadhyay is the BJP candidate from Kharagpur Sadar, one of the three seats BJP won in 2016. Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh had won the seat then defeating Congress MLA Gyan Singh Sohanpal, but after he became an MP, the TMC wrested the seat from BJP in the bypoll.
Nine of the 30 seats are under Suvendu Adhikari’s influence. In Panskura Paschim, one of his aides and BJP Yuva Morcha leader Sintu Senapati is pitted against Firoja Biwi, an MLA since 2009 who vacated her seat in Nandigram for Adhikari in 2016. Biwi had lost her son during the Nandigram protests of 2007. In Haldia, sitting MLA Tapasi Mondal who was earlier with the CPM but joined BJP along with Adhikari, will take on TMC’s Swapan Naskaran and CPM’s Manika Kar Paik. Mondal had won the seat in 2016 with over 50% votes.
Meanwhile, in Assam around 345 candidates are in the fray for the 39 seats in the second phase of polls on April 1. Around 73,44,631 voters who will cast their votes at 10,592 polling stations in this phase. Out these 37,34,537 are males, 36,09,959 females and 135 transgenders.
Areas going to polls are spread across central Assam, two hill districts, some parts of Bodoland territorial council and the entire Barak valley. Thursday ballot will decide the fate of four ministers and the Assam assembly deputy speaker.
Parimal Suklabaidya is seeking re-election from Dholai, Bhabesh Kalita from Rangiya, Pijush Hazarika from Jagiroad, deputy speaker Aminul Haque Laskar from Sonai, Sum Ronghang from Diphu, Rihon Daimary from Udalguri and Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary from Panery.
Siddique Ahmed is contesting from Karimganj South. Brother of AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, Sirajuddin Ajmal, is contesting from Jamunamukh.
Former deputy speaker Dilip Kumar Paul is contesting as an independent from Silchar after being denied a BJP ticket. Former minister Gautam Roy is contesting from Katigora.
BJP is contesting 34 seats in this phase and allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is contesting six and UPPL three.
The Congress is contesting in 27 seats and its allies AIUDF in eight and BPF in four. Assam Jatiya Parishad is contesting in 17 seats. There are around d 174 independent candidates