Campaigning Ends For Fifth Phase Of LS Polls In Bengal

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Kolkata: The high-pitched campaigning by different political parties for seven Lok Sabha constituencies going to the polls in the fifth phase on May 6 came to an end Saturday evening.

The campaigning during the last couple of days was marred by the panic over Cyclone Fani, which caused large scale destruction in neighbouring Odisha. The fear over the calamity led all political parties to cancel their election meetings. On the last day of campaigning the BJP candidate of Bongaon(SC) seat, Shantanu Thakur was injured in a road accident.

Seats in which elections will be held on Monday are Bongaon(SC), Barrackpur, Howrah, Uluberia, Serampore, Hooghly and Arambagh (SC) where an electorate of 1,16,91,889 will decide the fate of 83 candidates, the Election Commission said.

The EC will deploy a total 578 companies of central forces, which will cover almost 100 per cent polling booths in the seven constituencies to ensure free and fair polling, officials in the poll body said.

All the seven seats, which are spread across North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hoogly districts and parts of Nadia district, will see a four-cornered contest between Trinamool Congress, BJP, Congress and the Left Front major CPI(M).

The campaign saw poll meetings by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congres supremo Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee also participated in a number of roadshows.

In Bongaon(SC) seat, which is on the Indo-Bangla border and has a large number of voters from the Matua community, TMC has fielded Mamata Thakur against the BJP candidate Shantanu Thakur. The Left Front constituent CPI(M) has nominated Alakesh Das, while the Congress has nominated Sourav Prosad.

The Matuas (Namasudras) are a closely-knit scheduled caste group with presence in five parliamentary seats in North and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal, making them one of the biggest vote banks in the state. Shantanu Thakur is the grandson of the late Matua matriarch Binapani Devi, while Mamata Bala Thakur is her daughter-in-law.

In Barrackpore, the TMC has fielded its sitting MP Dinesh Trivedi against BJP’s Arjun Singh, who had defected from Mamata Banerjee’s party ahead of the poll. The Congress has nominated Md Alam and CPI(M) Gargi Chatterjee.

Howrah Lok Sabha seat will see TMC’s Prasun Banerjee, a footballer-turned politician locking horns with BJP’s Rantidev Sengupta. Congress has nominated Suvra Ghosh and the CPI(M) Sumitro Adhikary.

In Uluberia seat TMC’s Sajda Ahmed will contest against Joy Banerjee of BJP. The Congress has fielded Shoma Ranisree Roy and CPI(M) Maksuda Khatun. Kalyan Banerjee is the TMC candidate from Sreerampur seat against BJP’s Debjit Sarkar. The Congress has nominated Debabrata Biswas and CPI(M) has fielded Tirthankar Ray for the seat.

In Hooghly seat Ratna De Nag of TMC will contest against BJP’s celebrity candidate Locket Chatterjee. The CPI(M) has nominated Pradip Saha and the Congress Pratul Chandra Saha for the seat.

In Arambagh(SC) seat, TMC’s Aparupa Poddar will contest against Tapan Kumar Ray of BJP. The CPI(M) has fielded Sakti Mohan Malik and Congress Jyoti Kumari Das.

Braving inclement weather due to Cyclone Fani, the polling personnel have already left for the 13,290 booths in the seven constituencies.

Besides general election observers and expenditure observers, the poll panel has for the first time deployed a special police observer and a special observer.

In another first, VVPAT will be used in all polling booths along with the EVMs, EC sources said.