Kolkata: Campaigning for the crucial
third phase of assembly elections in West Bengal covering 75
constituencies in Kolkata and neighbouring districts of North
and South 24-Paraganas districts ended on Monday.
The fate of 479 candidates, including Chief Minister
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and nine other ministers, would be
decided by an electorate of 1,44,55,376 on April 27.
While Bhattacharjee takes on his one-time chief
secretary and Trinamool Congress candidate Manish Gupta in
Jadavpur constituency in South 24-Parganas district in a
crucial contest, Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta is pitted
against Trinamool candidate and FICCI secretary general Amit
Mitra at Khardah in North 24-Paraganas district.
Other important personalities contesting are CPI-M`s
aggressive face and Housing Minister Gautam Deb, Transport
Minister Ranjit Kundu, Land Revenue Minister Abdur Rejjak
Mollah, Sports Minister Kanti Ganguli (all CPI-M), Leader of
the Opposition Partha Chatterjee and Kolkata Mayor Shovan
Chatterjee (both Trinamool).
The North 24-Parganas district with 33 assembly seats
has served as the Left bastion for the last three decades.
During the 2006 assembly polls, most of the seats from the
district were won by the Left Front.
But the Trinamool Congress made deep inroads in the
district in the past few years. In the 2009 general election,
the Trinamool Congress won all its three Lok Sabha seats.
South 24-Parganas district with 31 seats also has been
a Left Front citadel for the past three decades, but the Left
Front got a drubbing at the hands of Trinamool Congress during
the 2008 panchayat polls. Trinamool is currently holding the
South 24-Paraganas Zilla Parishad.
The story was repeated in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls
when Trinamool won all four seats in the district. Kolkata
district has 11 assembly constituencies.
Last year Trinamool won the Kolkata Municipal
Corporation poll with a huge margin and also secured all the
Lok Sabha seats from the city during the 2009 polls.
A high point of the campaign was Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh sharing dais with Trinamool chief Mamata
Banerjee at Dum Dum constituency in North 24-Paraganas
district where he hit out at the Left Front government for
"failure" on all fronts including law and order.
He spoke of the decline of Bengal under Left Front in
areas like industry, education and growth and criticised the
government for the condition of the minorities which he rated
below that of Gujarat. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram while
campaigning said the law and order situation had deteriorated.
Another stand-out feature is the expelled CPI-M leader
and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee`s return to
the campaign trail.
Accusations and counter-accusations also flowed freely
in the campaign with a CPI-M former MP Anil Basu using
`unparliamentary` language against Mamata Banerjee which
resulted in his party suffering a loss of face and prompting
the party to secure a written apology from him.