West Bengal had elections in eight phases. The polling was held on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26, and April 29. All India Trinamool Congress & allies, Sanjukta Morcha comprising Congress and the Left, Bharatiya Janata Party & allies and other parties were in fray.
Out of the 294 constituencies, elections were postponed in two seats due to the death of candidates.
Singhvi praises Mamata
Irrespective of Nandigram result & she is trailing there; Mamata showed her tigress fighting instincts by eschewing multiple safe seats available & took the fight right to the heart of the enemy’s den. Win or lose, she has won hearts & minds with her guts: Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal said in a tweet.
Veteran CPI(M) leader and former Minister Asok Bhattacharya in trailing in a distant third position from Siliguri Assembly segment. Asok Bhattacharya was the Mayor of Siliguri Muncipal Corporation. The veteran CPI(M) leader is a key face of the party in north Bengal.
The TMC and Left have fought bitterly in Siliguri before, but now it is the BJP that is leading in this segment.
Babul Supriyo trailing
BJP candidate Babul Supriyo is trailing in Tolyganj. Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Arup Biswas is leading here. Babul Supriyo is Asansol MP and a Union Minister for State.
Tollyganj is considered the hub of the Bengali film industry. Actor Debdut Ghosh has debuted in electioneering as CPI(M) candidate here. While Mr. Supriyo is a well-known singer, Arup Biswas’ brother Swarup has served as president of Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India.
Abhishek Banerjee and other TMC leaders start arriving at Mamata Banerjee’s Kalighat residence. – Shiv Sahay Singh
Early trends not real indicator of Bengal poll outcome: Vijayvargiya
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Sunday exuded confidence that his party will form the next government in West Bengal.
He said that the initial trends from postal ballots were “not the real indicator of the final outcome”.
“We will cross the magic figure by evening. I am sure that we will form the next government in Bengal,” Mr. Vijayvargiya, who is also the BJP’s Bengal minder, said.
The saffron party, which had managed to secure just three seats in the last assembly elections, is making good progress, he stated. – PTI
Kajal Sinha, who died of COVID-19, leads
TMC candidate, Kajal Sinha who died of COVID infection just three days after polling in his seat Khardaha is leading by 2411 votes as per Election Commission.
His wife has filed a case of culpable homicide against against Sudip Jain, Deputy Election Commissioner In-Charge of West Bengal, accusing the Election Commission of India (EC) of “deliberate and intentional omission” leading to her husband’s death.
She also accused the EC of “intentionally” not taking any steps to ensure COVID-19 protocols were followed at public rallies.
Other than Sinha, three other candidates died during the prolonged election campaign in the State. Two candidates were from the Jangipur constituency — the Revolutionary Socialist Party’s Pradip Nandi and Congress’ Rezaul Haque. Samir Ghosh, independent candidate from Baisnabnagar Assembly constituency, also succumbed to COVID-19.
Cricketer-turned-politician Manoj Tiwary is leading in Shibpur. He is contesting from Trinamool Congress ticket. He has been pitted against Rathindranath Chakraborty, the former Mayor of Howrah. Mr. Chakraborty switched to BJP recently.
Trinamool Congress increases its vote share
Trinamool Congress has some reasons to cheer though. Initial trends of counting suggest that the party’s vote share has crossed 50%. The party seems to be doing well in districts such as Malda and Murshidabad where it did not have much presence in 2016 Assembly polls.
Even in Jhargram and Hooghly district Trinamool Congress seems to be ahead in the first few rounds of counting. – Shiv Sahay Singh
Mamata trails in Nandigram
As per the latest update, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is trailing behind BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari by over 1,000 votes at the end of first round of counting.
Nandigram was one of the main reasons Trinamool Congress dethroned three decades of Left rule in West Bengal. Fourteen villagers were killed in the police firing and subsequent violence in Nandigram. The violent movement against land acquisition catapulted Mamata Banerjee to power in the State in 2011.
The constituency has been the centre of high voltage politics with the BJP fielding former TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari, who had represented the constituency for the past five years. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned here.
Bodoland and Bengal
Kamalshing Narzary of Bodoland Peoples Front is marginally leading in Bijni. An ally of BJP once, the party switched to Congress-Left alliance in February.
The BJP and the BPF parted ways before the elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which the party chief Hagrama Mohilary Mohilary headed for 17 years, in December 2020. The BPF was also part of Assam government led by BJP.
Interestingly, the BPF was part of UPA until 2016.
BJP: From 2 seats to contender
Initial trends for West Bengal is out. The ruling Trinamool Congress is leading in two seats, while the BJP is leading in one seat.
The BJP aspires to form government in the key eastern State. The Prime Minister, Home Minister and a number of Union Ministers, and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States have campaigned in this State. In 2016, the party had won just two seats. But over the course of five years, it has 34 MLAs, thanks to byelections. Several MLAs switched sides, including Suvendu Adhikari a prominent Trinamool Congress leader.
The rise of BJP also coincided with the fading of Left and Congress in the region. From being the ruler of Bengal for over three decades, the Left Front failed to win a single seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress party, which was the principal opposition party in 2016, lost its place to the BJP.
The historical towns of Murshidabad, Malda may hold key to power in Bengal
If there is one historical character whose name was dropped again and again in the political discourse during the 2021 Assembly polls in West Bengal, it was Mir Jafar, the military general of Nawab Siraj-U-Daullah who sided with the British. At almost every political rally, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the leaders of her own party who had defected to the BJP “Mir Jafars” and ‘traitors’.
Murshidabad has always stood against the tide. In the 2016 Assembly polls when the Trinamool swept the State, 14 of the 22 seats went to the Congress.
Murshidabad shares boundary with Bangladesh and has a minority population of 66%. The anti-CAA protests could also have its bearing on the results.
In the case of adjoining Malda district, it was once a Congress bastion. But in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had a lead in six Assembly seats, the Congress in four and the TMC in two seats. The issues that dominate Murshidabad are also the same in Malda with similar geography and a 51.27 % minority population.
Among the states that went to polls recently, West Bengal has the maximum counting hallls — 1113, according to the Election Commission of India.
There are two factors for this. Firstly, Bengal has the highest number of seats among the States that went to polls along with it.
Secondly, Bengal is witnessing unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases during this election season. Polling campaigns are believed to be the main reason for this surge. The Election Commission restricted the number of people attending poll rallies to just 500, during the last phases of elections.
The ECI has made arrangements for a three-tier security at each of 108 counting centres. The premises will be guarded by personnel of the West Bengal police and central armed police forces. Every counting agent has to produce a COVID-19 negative certificate before entering the counting centres. About 30% of counting staff have been kept as reserve. ECI officials said that considering the COVID outbreak, this year there are more EVMs and counting centres and the announcement of results may be delayed.
All eyes on Nandigram
Of the state’s 294 assembly constituencies, the most keenly watched will be Nandigram in Purba Medinipur district where Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is contesting her protege-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP.
Ms. Banerjee, who is seeking a third term in office, has left Bhabanipur constituency in Kolkata to fight from Nandigram, the epicentre of an anti-land acquisition movement that catapulted her party to power in 2011 ending the 34- year-long Left Front rule.
However, 10 years later, a number of leaders have left the party and joined the BJP ahead of the election which was blotched by violence, vicious personal attacks and jingoistic fulminations.
Counting of votes begins in West Bengal
Counting of votes polled in the West Bengal assembly elections began at 8 am under tight security.
The exercise is underway in 108 counting centres spread across the 23 districts of the state, where a three- tier security arrangement has been put in place.
At least 292 observers have been appointed and 256 companies of central forces deployed at the counting centres.
While the Trinamool Congress is known for bringing celebrities into its fold, the BJP has followed suit, fielding television stars and other popular figures this time.
Will it cut ice or is it just another ploy by political parties that is bound to fall flat on its face?
As the BJP makes inroads into West Bengal, the incumbent Trinamool Congress government is pushing back, even as an experiment in Muslim politics is under way. Shiv Sahay Singh and Sudipta Datta report on the many strands of a polarised Bengal campaign.
84.63% of 73.80 lakh voters in 30 constituencies exercised their franchise during the first phase of polling on March 27.
30 seats went to polls in second phase of Bengal elections where turnout crossed 80%.
77.68% voter turnout was recorded in the third phase of the West Bengal assembly elections where more than 78.5 lakh voters exercised their franchise and decided the fate of 205 candidates.
Polling for 44 seats in the fourth phase of the West Bengal where over 1.15 crore voters exercised their franchise to decided the fate of 373 candidates recorded 76.16% turnout
Over one crore voters in West Bengal decided the political fate of 342 candidates, when 45 assembly constituencies went to polls in the fifth phase. It recorded 78.36% voter turnout.
In the sixth phase of polling in West Bengal for 43 Assembly seats across four districts, with about 79.09% voters exercising their franchise.
Over 86 lakh voters in West Bengal decided the political fate of 284 candidates, when 34 Assembly constituencies, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s home turf Bhabanipur, were polling in the seventh phase where around 75.06% voter turnout recorded.
Polling for 35 seats in the eighth phase of the assembly elections in West Bengal recorded 76.07% voter turnout.