With 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, West Bengal sends the third highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of Parliament. In the Lok Sabha election 2019, the results of which will be declared on May 23 (Thursday), a total of 466 candidates are in the fray. Traditionally, the state has witnessed a contest between Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and the Left Front with Congress also strong in a few pockets. However, Lok Sabha election 2019 witnessed the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), making it a four-cornered battle and creating a lot of interest in the final results.
Hoping to make big gains in the state, PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah together addressed more rallies in West Bengal than in Uttar Pradesh and their home states of Gujarat. The state also witnessed high-pitched campaign by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other Trinamool Congress leaders.
Voting was held in the state in all seven phases of Lok Sabha election - April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. Out of the 42 seats, 10 are reserved for Scheduled Caste and two for Scheduled Tribe candidates. In 2014, Trinamool Congress bagged 34 seats followed by the Congress with four while two seats each were won by the Left Front and the BJP.
The 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal are Cooch Behar, Alipurduars, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Raiganj, Balurghat, Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur, Baharampur, Murshidabad, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Bangaon, Barrackpore, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Joynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin, Kolkata Uttar, Howrah, Uluberia, Srerampur, Hooghly, Arambagh, Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura, Bishnupur, Bardhaman Purba, Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur and Birbhum.
West Bengal Lok Sabha Election 2019: Key contests
In the high-profile constituency of Diamond Harbour, Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool candidate Abhishek Banerjee is up against BJP's Nilanjan Roy while in Jangipur, former president and Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit Mukherjee is facing Trinamool’s Khalilur Rehman.
Arjun Singh, a former Trinamool MLA from Bhatpara, is contesting on a BJP ticket from Barrackpore against former Union minister and TMC candidate Dinesh Trivedi. Trinamool’s sitting MP Arpita Ghosh is seeking re-election from Balurghat where she is facing Ranen Barman of RSP, Sukanta Mazumdar of BJP, Abdus Sadek Sarkar of Congress and Nalin Chandra Murmu of BSP.
Alipurduar is witnessing a four-cornered contest between TMC's Dasarath Tirkey, BJP's John Barla, Congress' Mohanlal Basumata and Revolutionary Socialist Party's Mili Oraon while in Cooch Behar, the battle is between TMC's Paresh Chandra Adhikari, BJP's Nisith Pramanik, Congress' Piya Roy Chowdhury and Gobinda Roy of All India Forward Bloc.
In Jalpaiguri, TMC's Bijoy Chandra Barman is up against BJP's Jayanta Kumar Roy, Congress' Mani Kumar Darnal and CPI(M)'s Bhagirath Chandra Roy. In Darjeeling, the battle is between TMC's Amar Singh Rai, BJP's Raju Bista, Congress' Sankar Malakar and CPI(M)'s Saman Pathak.
TMC has nominated Kanhaiyalal Agarwal in Raiganj seat against Md Salim of CPI(M), Deepa Dasmunshi of Congress and Debasree Chowdhury of BJP.
In Maldaha North, two-time sitting MP Mausam Benazir Noor – niece of late Congress leader ABA Gani Khan Choudhury -- is contesting on a Trinamool ticket against her cousin and Congress candidate Isha Khan Choudhury, son of Congress MP from Malda South Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury. Congress has once again fielded Choudhury from Malda South, who is facing Trinamool’s Mohammad Moazzem Hossain and BJP’s Sreerupa Mitra Chowdhury.
West Bengal Lok Sabha Election 2019: Controversies
Large-scale violence was reported from different constituencies across the state in all the seven polling phases, with Trinamool Congress and BJP blaming each other for the violence. Controversy also erupted after the statue of Bengali cultural icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised in Kolkata during Amit Shah's roadshow on May 14, leading to clashes between TMC and BJP supporters. As many as 200 companies of central armed paramilitary forces (CAPFs) will remain deployed in West Bengal till May 27 in a bid to curb any post-poll violence that might occur in the state.
Exit poll predictions for West Bengal:
Exit polls predicted two different scenarios in West Bengal, which has been a TMC bastion since 2011. While some exit polls say TMC's fort will be intact, other show a massive surge for BJP. Mamata Banerjee-led TMC is expected to win at least 29 seats in West Bengal, as per IANS-CVoter Exit Poll. Times Now VMR has predicted 11 seats for the BJP, 28 for the TMC, two for the Congress and one seat for others.
Republic-CVoter has predicted 29 seats for the TMC and 11 seats for the BJP while ABP has put the number at 24 seats for TMC, 16 seats for BJP and two seats for Congress. India Today-Axis Poll gives TMC 19-22 seats, BJP 19-23 seats, and Congress 0-1 seat. Republic-Jan Ki Baat has predicted 18-26 seats for BJP and 13-21 for TMC. News 18-IPSOS says TMC is set to retain its grip on Bengal and is likely to get 36-38 seats out of the 42.