West Bengal poll battle begins tomorrow

Amidst tight security, 54 Assembly constituencies spread across six districts in West Bengal will go to polls in the first phase on Monday with 97.42 lakh voters expected to exercise their franchise.

Last Updated: Apr 17, 2011, 10:20 AM IST

Kolkata: Amidst tight security, 54
Assembly constituencies spread across six districts in West
Bengal will go to polls in the first phase on Monday with 97.42
lakh voters expected to exercise their franchise.

The main contest is between CPI-M-led Left Front and
Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance. BJP has also fielded
candidates in 49 seats.

Multi-cornered contests are on the cards in all 54
constituencies in the first phase which would decide the fate
of 10 ministers. In all, 364 candidates are in the fray in
the 54 seats.

Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure
peaceful, free and fair polling in all the constituencies
spread across North Bengal districts of Cooch Behar,
Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North Dinjapur, South Dinajpur and
Malda.

A total of 12,133 polling centres have been set up in
the six districts.

Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kumar Gupta said Central
and other security forces have reached the areas going to the
polls and started flag march and area domination.

Inter-state and international borders have been
sealed.

He said 16 polling booths are located in remote hilly
terrain in Darjeeling and in Kalimpong and polling personnel
had been despatched there on Saturday.

The election is being held in the backdrop of slogans
for bringing in political change and witnessed high-voltage
campaign.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary
Rahul Gandhi besides senior party leader and Union Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee hit the campaign trail to canvas for
the alliance candidates.

Blaming the Left Front for Bengal`s `under-
development`, Gandhi promised that the Congress-Trinamool
alliance would make Bengal an advanced state if voted to
power.

During his campaign, Rahul Gandhi criticised the LF
for its `misrule` and said this election will bring an end to
the CPI(M)-led government.

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee toured the
entire North Bengal to campaign for alliance.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee did not
campaign for the Left candidates in North Bengal. Among the
Left leaders who canvassed included CPI-M politburo member
Brinda Karat, Sitaram Yechury and state Housing Minister
Gautam Deb.

Prominent BJP leaders who took part in electioneering
included LK Advani, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
and Arun Jaitley besides Hema Malini.

PTI