West Bengal Election LIVE updates: Voting in 44 seats for phase 4 to begin at 7 am; 357 candidates in fray

06:54 (IST)

West Bengal election LATEST updates 

Key contestants in phase 4 polls

Among those contesting in the fourth phase are senior Trinamool Congress leader and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee from Behala Purba and Public Works Department and Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Aroop Biswas from Tollygunj in South 24 Parganas.

Minister for North Bengal Development Rabindranath Ghosh is in the fray from Natabari in Cooch Behar and Minister for Agriculture Marketing Arup Roy is contesting from Howrah Madhya.

06:51 (IST)

West Bengal election LATEST updates 

Voting in 44 seats across five districts today

The fourth phase of the high octane West Bengal election is being held in 44 constituencies covering Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts in north Bengal and parts of South 24 Parganas (Part 3), Howrah (Part 2) and Hoogly (Part 2) in the southern part of the state.

More than 1.5 crore voters will exercise their franchise to seal the fate of 373 candidates from the ruling TMC, the BJP-led NDA, the Congress-led Sanjukt Morcha as well as Independents.

06:45 (IST)

West Bengal election LATEST updates 

Voting for phase 4 to begin at 7 am

Polling for 44 constituencies in the fourth phase of the eight-phased West Bengal Assembly election will begin today at 7 am and continue till 6.30 pm amid COVID-19 precautions and tight security arrangements.

West Bengal election LATEST updates: Voting for 44 constituencies in the fourth phase of the eight-phased West Bengal Assembly Election 2021 will begin today at 7 am and continue till 6.30 pm amid COVID-19 precautions and tight security arrangements.

The fourth phase of the high octane West Bengal election is being held in 44 constituencies covering Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts in north Bengal and parts of South 24 Parganas (Part III), Howrah (Part II) and Hoogly (Part II) in the southern part of the state, and will seal the electoral fates of 373 candidates from the ruling TMC, the BJP-led NDA, the Congress-led Sanjukt Morcha as well as Independents.

Polling will be held for nine assembly constituencies in Howrah, 11 in South 24 Parganas, five in Alipurduar, nine in Coochbehar and ten in Hooghly.

Of the 1,15,81,022 voters casting ballots today, 58,82,514 are men, 56,98,218 women and 290 members identify themselves as the third gender.

Some of the high profile leaders, who are contesting for these 44 seats include BJP firebrand and Union minister Babul Supriyo and West Bengal ministers Partha Chatterjee and Arup Biswas, among others.

While Supriyo will lock horns with sitting MLA Arup Biswas at Tollygunj, known to be the heart of the Bengali film industry in the southern outskirts of Kolkata, Partha Chatterjee, who is also the TMC's secretary-general, will take on film actor Srabanti Chatterjee of the BJP in Behala West seat to return to the Assembly for the fourth successive term.

Also in the fray on Saturday is TMC turncoat Rajib Banerjee, a former minister of the Mamata Banerjee cabinet, who is contesting from Domjur in Howrah district on a BJP ticket.

Two other MPs of the BJP Locket Chatterjee and Nisith Pramanik are also contesting from Chuchura and Dinhata seats in Hoogly and Cooch Behar districts, respectively.

Former Bengal Ranji captain Manoj Tiwary is contesting from Shibpur on a TMC ticket.

Ratna Chatterjee, wife of the former city mayor and fire minister Sovan Chatterjee, who left Mamata Banerjee's TMC to join the BJP for a short period, is facing BJP's actress-turned politician Payel Sarkar in Behala Purbo seat.

The Sanyukta Morcha comprising Left front, Congress and ISF has fielded mostly young faces for the fourth phase of polling. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty is one of the few seniors fielded by the Left for this phase of the elections.

Bengal has already voted for 91 seats in three phases held between 27 March and 6 April. Polling in the previous three phases saw sporadic incidents of violence with members of all political parties, including some TMC candidates, facing attacks by rival camps.

Keeping the incidents of violence in mind, the Election Commission has deployed at least 789 companies of the central armed police force (CAPF) in 15,940 polling stations spread over the 44 constituencies.

Each company of CAPF comprises 100 personnel including officers.

The highest deployment of 187 companies of CAPF will be in Cooch Behar, which has witnessed sporadic incidents of violence in the run-up to the elections including an attack on BJP state president Dilip Ghosh allegedly by TMC supporters.

The fourth phase of elections in Bengal saw several top leaders from all political parties canvassing for candidates from their respective parties.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned for BJP candidates at various places by holding public meetings and roadshows.

Mamata Banerjee and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, a Lok Sabha MP, held several public meetings in many of the constituencies going to poll on Saturday.

While the BJP leadership targeted the TMC government, its supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee accusing them of corruption and "appeasement politics" and claimed that their "khela shesh hobe" (game will be over).

Modi and Shah promised voters early implementation of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi as well as the implementation of the 7th pay commission scales for state government employees if voted to power in West Bengal.

Banerjee, her nephew and party MP Abhishek were among star campaigners for the TMC who stepped up their attack on the BJP-led Central Government over the recent hike in prices of gas, petrol, diesel, besides plans to disinvest in a large number of Central Government-run PSUs.

During the campaigning, Banerjee also accused central police forces of harassing and intimidating voters in Bengal and urged voters to "gherao" them in case security men prevented them from voting.

The fiery TMC leader during a public rally at Tarakeswar in Hooghly district on 3 April also appealed to the minority community not to divide their votes. This led to the Election Commission of India issuing a show-cause notice to Banerjee for demanding votes on communal ground.

Reacting to the notice, the TMC chief had said that she won't change her stance even if she was served 10 notices. She had also accused the EC of bias, asking why no complaint has been filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi "who talks about Hindu and Muslim (vote banks)every day".

The Election Commission on Friday had also issued a notice to Mamata Banerjee for her "completely false, provocative and intemperate statements" against central forces performing election duty in West Bengal, provoking her to declare she will continue doing so until "the CRPF stops working for BJP".

It's to be noted that while polling will be underway for 44 seats in the fourth phase of the West Bengal Assembly election, campaigning will continue in the 159 constituencies in the state that are set to vote in four phases on 17 April, 22 April, 26 April and 29 April.

With inputs from PTI



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