New Delhi:The last phase of polling in the month long drawn West Bengal Elections is being held today. 25 seats are in fray. Thousands of security personnel have been stationed in East Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts which are polling today.
An electorate of over 58 lakh is eligible to cast their ballots at 6,774 polling stations between 7 AM to 6 PM. In all, 170 candidates, including 18 women, are in the fray for the last phase. Maintaining a tight security cover, the poll panel has deployed 361 companies of central forces who are assisted by a contingent of 12,000 state police personnel.
Out of the total electors, 27.8 lakh are females while the third gender is a small minority of 68 voters. For the first time since Independence, residents of border enclaves in CoochBehar district will be able to exercise their franchise, thanks to the formal inclusion of the enclaves in the Indian territory last year.
There are 9,776 voters in the enclave, for whom special arrangements and awareness programs have been done. Among them is 103-year-old Asgar Ali of Madhya Mashaldanga who is eligible to vote for the first time in his life.
In East Midnapore, on the other hand, the district administration has taken special intervention to make the elections a disabled friendly one.They have pinpointed 15,500 persons with disability in the electoral rolls.
Each polling premises has a wheelchair, ramp with handrails and braille signage.In the two districts, the commission has so far identified 714 vulnerable hamlets and 1685 vulnerable voters.
Close to 900 trouble-mongers have been identified and action taken against all of them.All eyes will be on Nandigram in East Midnapore district where a violent anti-land acquisition movement had helped uproot the 34-year-long Left Front government.
Trinamool Congress, which had won all 16 seats in East Midnapore district in 2011, has now fielded its Tamluk MP Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram. He is pitted against CPI’s Abdul Kabir Sheikh, supported by the Congress-Left alliance.
State Environment Minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar is another heavyweight in the fray. He is seeking to defend his Mahisadal seat. Former Trinamool minister Hiten Barman is trying his luck once again from Sitalkuchi seat.
TMC won 20 out of the 25 seats in 2011 and was ahead in 24 assembly segment in 2014. The party will look to get around 20 seats this time to ensure that they get back to power. The Cong- Left alliance will look to win handsomely in CoochBehar which is its traditional stronghold to offset for possible losses in East Midnapore.
With agency inputs