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Polling begins for fourth phase in Bengal

Kolkata: Voting for the fourth phase of the eight-phase assembly election in West Bengal began this morning in 44 of the state’s 294 constituencies amid elaborate security arrangements.

Polling for the fourth phase will be will held across five districts and 44 assembly seats.

The districts include Howrah Part II, South 24 Parganas Part III and Hooghly Part II, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar on Saturday.

The forty four Assembly Constituencies of West Bengal going to polls in fourth phase are: 1. Mekliganj (SC) 2. Mathabhanga (SC) 3. Coochbehar Uttar (SC) 4. Coochbehar Dakshin 5. Sitalkuchi (SC) 6. Sitai (SC) 7. Dinhata 8. Natabari 9. Tufanganj 10. Kumargram (ST) 11. Kalchini (ST) 12. Alipurduars 13. Falakata (SC) 14. Madarihat (ST) 15. Sonarpur Dakshin 16. Bhangar 17. Kasba 18. Jadavpur 19. Sonarpur Uttar 20. Tollyganj 21. Behala Purba 22. Behala Paschim 23. Maheshtala 24. Budge Budge 25. Metiaburuz 26. Bally 27. Howrah Uttar 28. Howrah Madhya 29. Shibpur 30. Howrah Dakshin31. Sankrail (SC) Panchla 33. Uluberia Purba 34. Domjur 35. Uttarpara 36. Sreerampur 37. Champdani 38. Singur 39. Chandannagar 40. Chunchura 41. Balagarh (SC) 42. Pandua 43. Saptagram 44. Chanditala.

The fate of 373 candidates in which 50 (13%) are female candidates will be decided in the fourth phase by 1,15,81,022 voters including 58,82,514 are males, 56,98,218 females and 290 third gender who will exercise their franchise in 15,940 polling booths spread across the 44 constituencies, the Election Commission sources said.

Women voters will become the deciding factor in West Bengal`s South 24 Parganas district during the state`s fourth phase Assembly elections for 44 constituencies.

Cumulatively the number of female voters in the district`s 11 constituencies are more than their male counterparts. In six of them, Sonarpur Dakshin, Sonarpur Uttar, Jadavpur, Tollygunj, Behala Uttar, Behala Dakshin, women have an edge over their male counterparts.

The total number of female voters in these 11 constituencies are 15,70,392, while the number of the male voters is 15,66,161.

Bharatiya Janata Party and ruling Trinamool Congress are contesting for all the 44 seats while Congress, Left parties and their alliance partner Indian Secular Front are fighting under the banner of Sanyukt Morcha.

CPI (M) has fielded 22 candidates, BSP has 13, Congress – nine, AIFB – six, ISF – four, RSP- two and CPI- one while there are 153 independents along with 73 others are also in the fray.

The EC has made elaborate security arrangements with the deployment of central and state forces to ensure a free fair and peaceful poll.

About 793 companies of central security forces have been deployed in the constituencies to ensure a peaceful election. 99 companies have been deployed in the Alipurduar, 45 companies in Baruipur , 84 companies in Chandannagar, 188 companies in Cooch Behar, 39 companies in

Diamond Harbour, 91 companies in Hooghly, 140 companies in Howrah, 101 companies in Kolkata and 6 companies in Jalpaiguri.

The Election Commission has decided to use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) along with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at every Polling Station, with a view to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process, as VVPAT allows the voter to verify his/her vote. The arrangements have already been made to ensure availability of adequate number of EVMs and VVPATs for the smooth conduct of elections.

In view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission has decided to allow maximum 1,000 electors in a Polling Station instead of earlier stipulation of 1,500 electors. Option of Postal Ballot facility has been extended to the electors who are COVID- 19 positive or suspect as certified by competent authority and are in home or institutional quarantine along with those marked as Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and above the age of 80 years.

The special facilities will include mandatory sanitization of Polling Station, thermal checking of voters at entry point either by polling staff or paramedical staff or an Asha worker. If temperature is above the set norms of Health Ministry, then the elector will be provided with token and asked to come for voting at the last hour of poll. At the last hour of poll, such electors will be facilitated for voting, strictly following COVID-19 related preventive measures.

The prominent leaders contesting in this phase include State Ministers Binay Krishna Barman from Coochbehar Uttar, Rabindranath Ghosh from Natabari, Javed Ahmed Khan from Kasba, Aroop Biswas from Tollyganj, Partha Chatterjee from Behala Paschim, Arup Roy from Howrah Madhya, Becharam Manna from Singur, Indranil Sen from Chandannagar and Tapan Dasgupta from Saptagram.

Former Ministers Paresh Chandra Adhikary from Mekliganj, Udayan Guha from Dinhata, Rajib Bannerjee from Domjur, Leader of Opposition in Assembly Abdul Mannan from Champdani, BJP leader Manoj Tigga from Madarihat, Congress leader Deboprasad Roy from Alipurduar, Left-Front Leader Dr. Sujan Chakraborty from Jadavpur and CPI(M) Polit Bureau Member Mohammed Salim from Chanditala are also in the fray.

Besides, BJP MP Locket Chatterjee from Chunchura, actors Anjana Basu and Arundhati Maitra from Sonarpur Dakshin, cricketer Manoj Tiwary from Shibpur, footballer Bidesh Ranjan Bose from Uluberia Purba and senior journalist Rantidev Sengupta from Howrah Dakshin are also trying their luck.

The campaign was characterised by a no-holds-barred tirade of allegations and counter-allegations and ruling Trinamool Congress going all out to retain power for the third successive term.

The Trinamool Congress chief called upon the people to defeat the BJP while the Prime Minister urged voters to exercise their franchise in his party’s favour.

The remaining four phases are on April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29.

The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

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