Around 15 pc turnout recorded till 9 AM in Bengal

Insight Online News

Kolkata, May 13 : An estimated 15.24 per cent of over 1.5 crore electorate exercised their franchise in the first two hours till 9 AM on Monday in the fourth phase election to eight Lok Sabha seats in Bengal.

While Bolpur recorded 16.46 per cent polling, Krishnanagar 15.67 per cent, Ranaghat 15.31 per cent, Bardhaman Purba 15.88 per cent, Bardhaman Durgapur 14.08 per cent, Asansol 13.03 per cent, Birbhum 14.55 per cent and Baharampur 16.97 per cent, according to ECI sources.

Meanwhile, tension ran high between BJP and TMC supporters in Bolpur Lok Sabha constituency after a BJP camp near booth nos 186/187 was found ransacked early this morning. Later local police at Suri arrived and restored the situation.

A CPI(M) agent at Baniakhali in Chapra under Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency in Nadia was driven out from the booth for two hrs after being beaten by alleged TMC supporters, but the local CPI(M) leader got him back by the help of Central forces and allowed him to sit.

An estimated over 1.5 crore electorate, including 71,45,379 women and 282 third genders, spanning over 15,507 polling stations will have to return eight winners from some 75, including 16 female, aspirants seeking their electoral fortune in five districts.

The contest, however, revolves around the candidates of ruling Trinamool Congress, main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and combined Left-Congress for Baharampur, Ranaghat (SC), Krishnanagar, Bardhaman Purba, Bardhaman-Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur and Birbhum Lok Sabha seats in five contiguous districts of Central Bengal.

While the TMC and BJP are contesting in all eight seats, the Left in six, and Congress in two constituencies.

In the fourth phase, some 70,641 voters are above 80 many of whom have already cast votes using home voting facilities, State election official said.

Among the voters, the new electors are 23,544 people between the ages of 18-19. Of the total booths of 15,507, 3,647 are critical and violence-prone.

Women-run polling booths are 791, while five booths are to be handled by specially able poll personnel.

Among the booths, 42 are models, according to the poll panel. Altogether, 596 CAPF and over 33,472 state police are being deployed to ensure free and fair voting, official sources said.

The key players in the south Bengal constituencies are state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury from Baharampur, TMC’s Mahua Moitra (Krishnanagar) and Shatrughan Sinha (Asansol), former cricketers Yusuf Pathan (Baharampur) and Kirti Azad (Bardhaman-Durgapur), BJP’s former state president Dilip Ghosh (Bardhaman-Durgapur) and former Union minister S S Ahluwalia (Asansol).

A galaxy of BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, have campaigned for BJP candidates Rajmata Amrita Roy (Krishnanagar) and Dilip Ghosh.

Roy, who hails from the Krishnanagar Royal family, is the richest among them, with total assets worth Rs 554 crore as declared in her election affidavit. She is contesting against TMC’s Mahua Moitra. Modi and Shah campaigned for Ghosh, who is pitted against Kirti Azad.

Ghosh won the last Lok Sabha polls from Medinipur, but this time he was nominated to contest polls from Bardhaman Durgapur.

The Baharampur Lok Sabha seat in Murshidabad district has thrown up a triangular contest with Chowdhury, a five-time MP defending his home turf, TMC’s Yusuf Pathan, and BJP’s Dr Nirmal Kumar Saha.Out of the eight seats, the TMC won four in 2019, the BJP three, and the Congress one seat.

After BJP MP Babul Supriyo from Asansol resigned and joined TMC, by-polls were held in Asansol. TMC candidate Shatrughan Sinha won the seat in 2022.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had campaigned for the party candidates extensively across these five districts.

In volatile Birbhum, where both seats were won by the TMC in 2019, this time a new dimension happened as the saffron brigade had to replace its nominee at the end.

The candidature for former IPS Debasish Dhar was cancelled during the scrutiny, and the BJP nominated Debtanu Bhattacharya to contest the polls from the seat.

Bhattacharya is contesting against three-time TMC MP Shatabdi Roy.

The BJP’s central leadership also had to change its candidate from the Asansol seat after criticism in social media against Bhojpuri singer and actor Pawan Singh, some of whose compositions were considered derogatory to Bengali women.

The BJP then placed two-time MP S S Ahluwalia from the seat.Though a local from Asansol, Ahluwalia has represented Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat (2014-19) and adjoining Bardhaman Durgapur Lok Sabha seat (2019-24). He will be contesting against TMC candidate Shatrughan Sinha.

While Baharampur features TMC’s Yusuf Pathan, BJP’s Dr Nirmal Kumar Saha and Adhir Ranjan Choudhary from Congress, supported by Left, Krishnanagar constituency (Nadia) features Mahua Moitra (TMC) against Rajmata Amrita Roy of the BJP and S M Saadi of CPI(M), Ranaghat (Nadia) TMC’s Mukut Mani Adhikari, Jagannath Sarkar of BJP and Alokesh Das of the CPI(M) and Bardhaman Purba features Dr Sharmila Sarkar from TMC, Asim Kumar Sarkar of the BJP, and Nirav Khan from CPI(M). Asansol’s electoral landscape will feature TMC’s Shatrughan Sinha, S S Ahluwalia of the BJP and Jahanara Khan from CPI(M).

Bolpur features Asit Kumar Mal of TMC, Priya Saha of the BJP, and Shyamali Pradhan from the CPI(M).Birbhum will see Shatabdi Roy of TMC, BJP’s Debtanu Bhatacharya and Milton Rashid from INC affiliated with the CPI(M).

There are contrast issues in the fourth phase polling over the CAA,alleged torture of the women and land grabbing of the Sandeshkhali women and sisters, polarisation of politics, allegations against an MP for passing the password of Parliament, questions for cash, allegations of non-implementation of central schemes, corruption and infiltration, among other things, besides closed industries.

Among the 1.5 crore electorate, the voters also have the issue of holding the sanctity of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s brainchild, Visva Bharati, at Santiniketan under the Bolpur segment.

Elections to ten seats, nearly 1/4th of the 42 seats, across North Bengal, Malda, and Murshidabad districts have concluded without shedding blood for the first time in decades, thanks to the ECI, the security forces, and the wisdom of the voters, who witnessed scores of casualties in the 2023 Panchayat polls, the 2021 Assembly poll, and the 2019 general election.

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