West Bengal election 2021 LIVE Updates: Voting in 43 seats across four districts in phase 6 begins; 306 candidates in fray

07:45 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST Updates

In North 24 Parganas, Matua bastions in fray for phase 6 

In North 24 Parganas and also in parts of Nadia like Bongaon Uttar, Bongaon Dakshin, Swarupnagar, Bagda and Krishnanagar Dakshin, there is a high concentration of Matua population. Most of the Assembly seats going to polls on Thursday are reserved for Scheduled Castes. Of the 43 Assembly seats, nine are in reserved category.

Since the past two years, Bongaon, a sub-division in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district bordering Bangladesh, is witnessing a new identity politics around the Matua sect, a Scheduled Caste religious group with origins in Bangladesh.

07:17 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST Updates

BJP's Arjun and Pawan Singh cast vote in Jagatdal today 

West Bengal BJP vice president Arjun Singh voted at booth number 144 in Jagatdal of North 24 Parganas on Thursday during the sixth phase of Bengal Assembly polls. His son and party's candidate from Bhatpara, Pawan Singh also voted today.

07:02 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST Updates

Uttar Dinajpur seats in north Bengal bordering Bangladesh and Bihar

Several Assembly constituencies of Uttar Dinajpur district like Chopra, Islampur, Goalpokhar and Chakulia border Bangladesh on one side and Bihar on another. The narrow stretch of land connecting north and south Bengal, often referred as 'chicken's neck', has a strategic importance and is also inhabited by people of all religions and ethnicities.

06:54 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST Updates

Assembly seats voting today spread across both north and south Bengal

During the sixth phase of West Bengal Assembly polls, polling will be held in both Uttar Dinajpur and Bardhaman Purba districts of north Bengal, Nadia and North 24 Parganas districts of south Bengal.

Nine seats in Uttar Dinjapur and Nadia each will go to polls on Thursday along with 17 constituencies in North 24 Parganas district and eight in Purba Bardhaman district.

06:49 (IST)

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST Updates

Voting in 43 seats across four districts in phase 6 today 

Polling for 43 constituencies in the sixth phase of the West Bengal Assembly Election will begin at 7 am on Thursday with COVID-19 precautions and tight security. The election will seal the fate of 306 candidates spread across four districts North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Uttar Dinajpur and Purba Bardhaman.

West Bengal election 2021 LATEST Updates During the sixth phase of Bengal Assembly polls, polling will be held in both Uttar Dinajpur and Bardhaman Purba districts of north Bengal, Nadia and North 24 Parganas districts of south Bengal.

Polling for 43 constituencies in the sixth phase of the West Bengal Assembly Election will begin today at 7 am with COVID-19 precautions and tight security. The election will seal the fate of 306 candidates spread across four districts North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Uttar Dinajpur and Purba Bardhaman.

Over one crore voters are set to exercise their franchise in today's elections at 14,480 polling stations. Of the total voters, 53.21 lakh are men, 50.65 lakh are women while 256 belong to the third gender

Security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, particularly the killing of five people in Cooch Behar during the fourth phase of polling on 10 April, an Election Commission official told news agency PTI. Four people were killed in firing by the CISF while one person was killed by miscreants.

To ensure free and fair voting in the sixth phase, the Election Commission has decided to deploy at least 1,071 companies of Central forces, he said. It will also put in place measures to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the voting process, the official said.

West Bengal on Tuesday registered its highest-single- day spike of 9,819 new COVID-19 cases, taking the state's total case count to  6,78,172, while the toll rose to 10,652 with 46 more succumbing to the disease.

Matua strongholds to vote today

Assembly seats in the Matua strongholds of Bongaon and Krishnanagar, close to the India-Bangladesh border, are among the segments going to the polls today.

Matuas, who make up a large portion of Bengal's Scheduled Caste population, had been migrating to the state since the 1950s, primarily due to religious persecution in erstwhile East Pakistan and later Bangladesh.

Both the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have pitched hard to gain the confidence of the Matuas in most of the 17 Assembly segments going to polls in this phase in North 24 Parganas district and some of the nine seats in Nadia.

Apart from the implementation of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), two other aspects — identity politics and regional development — have also emerged as decisive factors this election, with bitter rivals TMC and the BJP seeking to woo the community with several promises.

Apart from constituencies in North 24 Parganas and Nadia, elections will be held in nine seats in Uttar Dinajpur district and eight in Purba Bardhaman.

Major contestants

Prominent names in the sixth phase of the polls include BJP's national vice president Mukul Roy (Krishnanagar North), TMC ministers Jyotipriyo Mallick (Habra)  and Chandrima Bhattacharya and CPM leader Tanmay Bhattacharya (Dum Dum Uttar).

The political fate of film director Raj Chakraborty and actor Koushani Mukherjee, who are the TMC's candidates from the Barrackpore and the Krishnanagar North constituencies respectively, will also be decided in this phase of the election.

Election follows curtailed campaigning

A tough contest between the ruling TMC and its main rival BJP is on the cards.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty led the campaign of the saffron party, which has fortified into TMC's main challenger in this election.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee spearheaded the TMC campaign along with her nephew and party's youth wing chief Abhishek Banerjee.

However, the Election Commission curtailed the daily campaign hours and extended the "silence period" from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the remaining three phases of the election in view of the Cooch Behar violence and the rising COVID-19 cases in the state.

Given the surge in cases, political leaders and parties also called off their rallies or decided to hold them on a smaller scale.

Following criticism from rival parties, the BJP on Monday announced that it will limit attendance at all public rallies of its leaders to 500 people.

Banerjee had also decided to curtail her public meetings in all districts and hold only one rally in Kolkata o 26 April while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had days before testing positive, announced that all his rallies stand suspended.

Last week, the CPM had also announced the cancellation of its rallies for the remaining three phases of the West Bengal polls.

Meanwhile, the TMC urged the  Election Commission to club the last three phases of the Assembly polls, which the poll panel rejected as not implementable.

Elections have been held in 180 constituencies so far, and the remaining 114 seats are set to go to polls between 22 and 29 April. Votes will be counted on 2 May.

With inputs from PTI


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