Polling underway for West Bengal by-elections

At least 212,545 voters in 262 polling stations will decide Mamata Banerjee`s fate as she takes on CPI-M candidate Nandini Mukherjee.

Kolkata: The by-polls to West Bengal`s Bhowanipore assembly constituency, from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is seeking her maiden entry into the legislature, and Basirhat (Uttar) seat were being held on Sunday amid heavy rains.

"The polling started at 7 am. Till 9 am, 16 percent voting was recorded in Basirhat and seven to eight percent in Bhawanipore constituency," said an election official.

With rains lashing the city over the past couple of days, low voting was recorded in the initial hours at Bhowanipore.

The Bhowanipore seat fell vacant after its sitting lawmaker, state Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Subrata Bakshi resigned to make way for Banerjee.

Bhawanipore assembly segment is also part of Banerjee`s Kolkata South Lok Sabha constituency, which has been electing her since 1991.

She is the second chief minister of the state who is eyeing a by-poll victory to enter state assembly. Earlier, Siddharth Shankar Ray, during his tenure as the chief minister, was elected to the state assembly in a by-election in the early 1970s.

At least 212,545 voters in 262 polling stations will decide Banerjee`s fate as she takes on Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate Nandini Mukherjee, a computer science professor.

`Didi`, as Banerjee is popularly called, led her party to a massive victory in the April-May assembly polls, unseating the 34-year-old Left Front regime.

Bakshi had won by a whopping margin of 49,963 votes over CPI-M candidate Narayan Jain in the polls earlier this year. Ironically, Jain actively campaigned for the chief minister after switching alliance to the Trinamool, leaving the CPI-M red-faced.

Apart from Trinamool and CPI-M, three other Independents and a candidate of the Indian Justice Party are in fray.

By-poll became necessary in North 24 Parganas district`s Basirhat (Uttar) after CPI-M lawmaker Mostafa Bin Qasem allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of his room in the MLAs` Hostel.

Trinamool`s ATM Abdulla is pitted against the CPI-M`s Subid Ali Gazi in Basirhat, where 1.93 lakh voters in 239 polling stations are eligible to vote.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate and an Independent are also in the fray.

Nearly 17 companies of the central police forces have been deployed in the two constituencies during the polls. The counting will take place Sept 28.


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