High voltage campaign for fifth phase poll ends in WB

The high-voltage campaign for the May 7 fifth phase election to 38 constituencies in the Maoist-hit districts of West Midnapur, Bankura, Purulia and parts of Burdwan district ended.

Last Updated: May 05, 2011, 19:57 PM IST

Kolkata: The high-voltage campaign for the May
7 fifth phase election to 38 constituencies in the Maoist-hit
districts of West Midnapur, Bankura, Purulia and parts of
Burdwan district ended on Thursday.

An electorate of 74,17,723 will chose their representatives
to the West Bengal Assembly from among 193 candidates in fray.

The notable among the constituencies is Keshpur in West
Midnapur district where a bitter turf war between two arch
political rivals CPI-M and Trinamool Congress made news for
several years.

When the Left Front suffered a rout in south Bengal in the
2009 Lok Sabha polls at the hands of the Trinamool Congress,
these four districts, together known as the red fort, stemmed
the wind of change blowing hard across Bengal.

The May 7 election in these districts appears to be a test
for the Left Front`s ability to block the threatend inroads by
the Trinamool Congress.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee played the
development card during her hectic campaign, promising
industry, educational institutes and hospitals.

Alleging that the Maoist problem was created by the CPI(M),
Mamata had said the Marxist party branded as a Maoist whoever
protested against the CPI(M)`s `reign of terror`.

The Left leaders on the other hand had accused Mamata of
making `false promises` to woo tribals in the region.

Addressing a campaign meeting at Jhargram in
Maoist-affected West Midnapur district where Lalgarh is
situated, Chief Minister and CPI(M) leader Buddhadeb
Bhattacharjee had alleged, "If Trinamool Congress wins, the
Maoists will raise their heads again in the state. Giving vote
to them equals to giving vote to the Maoists."

Addressing an election meeting, Union Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee had urged the Maosits to shun violence and
sit for talks to settle their demands.

Union Home Minister P Chidabaram, who had addressed
campaign meetings at Keshpur and Garbeta in West Midnapur
district, tore into the Left Front`s shoddy record on the law
and order front.

Tight security arrangement has been made for the fifth
phase as well as the sixth and last phase.

Apart from state forces, around 550 to 600 companies of
central paramilitary forces would be deployed in the 38
constituencies, election office sources here said.

Of the 38 seats, 12 are in West Midnapur district, five
in Purulia district, nine in Bankura district and 12 in
Burdwan district.

The Left Front is contesting all the 38 seats - CPI(M) in
32 seats, Forward Bloc in three and the CPI, RSP, DSP and the
BBC (Biplabi Bangla Congress) one each.

Trinamool Congress is contesting in 33 seats and its
alliance partner Congress in five. The BJP has fielded
candidates in all the seats.

Prominent candidates included health minister and CPI(M)
state party stalwart Suryakanta Mishra, state Congress
president Manas Bhuniya, Trinamool Congress leader and mayor
of the Asansol Municipal Corporation Tapas Banerjee.

Surya Kanta Mishra is in the fray from Narayangarh in
West Midnapur district. An MLA since 1991, Mishra is pitted
against Trinamool`s greenhorn Suryakanta Autta in a crucial
contest.

Bhuniya is seeking reelection from Sabong in West
Midnapur district where Left Front has fielded Rampada Sahu
belonging to BBC.

Veteran Congress leader Gyansingh Sohanpal is also
seeking re-election from Kharagpur (Sadar) seat.

PTI