West Bengal election 2021 LIVE Updates: Polling in phase 1 to cover 30 seats across five districts, 23 seats in Jungle Mahal

06:58 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST updates

Of 30 seats in phase one, 23 are from Jungle Mahal

In the first phase of polling in West Bengal on Saturday, 23 seats of Jungle Mahal — which has an SC population of 22 percent and an ST population of 15 percent — will vote.

06:48 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST updates

TMC, BJP fielded candidates in 29 seats each

For the phase 1, the TMC and BJP have fielded candidates in 29 seats each, while the Left-Congress-ISF alliance has put up candidates in all 30 seats, even as there are "friendly fights in some.

06:19 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST updates

30 Assembly seats going to polls spread across tribal-dominated region 

Most of these 30 seats are spread across tribal-dominated Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Purba Medinipur (Part 1) and Paschim Medinipur (Part 1) districts. Bengal has a total of 294 assembly seats.

26 of the 30 constituencies where voting will be held today had voted for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the last assembly elections. But the BJP swept them in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

06:18 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST updates

Bengal polls start with voting in 30 seats today 

Voting for the high-decibel election to the West Bengal legislative Assembly starts on Saturday and will continue in seven more phases till 29 April. People will vote for their choice among 191 candidates in 30 constituencies in this phase. 

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST updates: In the first phase of polling on Saturday, 23 seats of Jungle Mahal — which has an SC population of 22 percent and an ST population of 15 percent — will vote.

West Bengal is all set to go for voting on Saturday (27 March) in the first phase of Assembly elections.

More than 73 lakh voters in the state will decide the fate of 191 candidates across 30 Assembly segments, most of which are in the once-Naxal-affected Jungle Mahal region, as the state goes to the polls in the first phase on Saturday.

The elections will be held amid tight security with the Election Commission deploying around 684 companies of central forces that would guard 10,288 polling booths housed in 7,061 premises, officials said. Besides, the state police will also be deployed at strategic locations, they added.

In the first phase, polling will take place amid strict COVID-19 guidelines in all nine seats in Purulia, four in Bankura, four in Jhargram and six in Paschim Medinipur, besides the seven seats in high-stakes Purba Medinipur — the home ground of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. The TMC and BJP have fielded candidates in 29 seats each, while the Left-Congress-ISF alliance has put up candidates in all 30 seats, even as there are "friendly fights" in some.

With the first phase, polling will be over in two districts — Purulia and Jhargram. The Trinamool Congress is fighting in 29 of the 30 seats while supporting an Independent in the Joypur Assembly segment in Purulia as the nomination of its official candidate Ujjwal Kumar was rejected by the EC due to a discrepancy.

Dibyajyoti Singhdeo, known to be a disgruntled TMC leader who filed the nomination as an Independent, is now backed by the party and is up against BJP's Narahari Mahato, who is a former Forward Bloc MP.

The Left Front has fielded Dhirendra Nath Mahato of Forward Bloc from the seat, while Congress fielded Phanibhushan Kumar as the two sides could not reach an
agreement over the seat. The BJP is also contesting the polls in 29 seats, while its ally AJSU Party of Jharkhand fielding a candidate in Baghmundi.

Congress heavyweight Nepal Mahato is the alliance candidate from the seat, even as the Forward Bloc fielded Debranjan Mahato. AJSU Party has nominated Ashutosh Mahato, while the TMC fielded Sushanta Mahato.

As per the official seat-sharing arrangements of the Opposition alliance, the Left is fighting in 18 seats, Congress in 10 and ISF two. However, 'friendly fights' between the Left parties and Congress are on the anvil in some seats, including Baghmundi and Joypur, as negotiations could not be concluded.

Among the other notable seats going to the polls in the first phase is Salboni, where the CPM has fielded former minister Susanta Ghosh against BJP's Rajib Kundu and TMC's Srikanta Mahata.

Ghosh, the MLA of Garbeta from 1987 to 2016, was in jail in the skeleton recovery case and is at present out on bail.

The TMC has fielded actor June Malia, a known face in the Bengali silver screen, from the Medinipur seat against BJP's Samit Kumar Dash. The Left-led alliance candidate is Tarun Kumar Ghosh of the CPI.

In the Ranibandh seat, former Left minister Debalina Hembram is the CPI(M) candidate, while TMC has fielded Jyotsna Mandi and BJP nominated Kshudiram Tudu.

In another significant contest, Santhali actor Birbaha Hansda is fighting on a TMC ticket from Jhargram against BJP's Sukhamay Satpathy and CPI(M)'s youth leader Madhuja Sen Roy.

The seven seats in Purba Medinipur — Patashpur, Kanthi Uttar, Bhagabanpur, Khejuri, Kanthi Dakshin, Ramnagar and Egra — will also be closely watched in a fight of prestige between the influential Adhikari family and the TMC.

Total 73,80,942 voters will be exercising their franchise in the first phase. Jungle Mahal is tribal-dominated and the BJP made massive inroads in the region with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, winning all five constituencies — Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Medinipur and Bishnupur.

West Bengal will be voting in eight phases for 294 seats, starting on Friday. The votes will be counted on 2 May.

With inputs from PTI

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