Voting to decide the fate of 672 candidates has begun amidst tight security on 4 April during in the first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal and Assam. Voters will exercise their franchise in 18 constituencies in West Bengal and 65 in Assam.
The polls are crucial for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) due to the presence of deep pockets of Hindus in upper Assam (Muslim-dominated state), while out of 18 constituencies in West Bengal, 13 are Naxal-hit areas, where voting process will be concluded by 4 pm. Polling will be up to 6 pm in other segments such as Purulia, Manbazar, Kashipur, Para and Raghunathpur.
As many as 133 candidates are in the fray in constituencies under the districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is facing heat from Left-Congress alliance, will have a tough time to return back to power. Assam CM Tarun Gogoi is trying hard to retain his chair, while the BJP is breathing down his neck.
Polls will be held on seven separate dates with the first phase having two polling days—the other is 11 April.
In Assam, Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal has been as the chief minister candidate should the BJP come to power in Assam. Sonowal will fight the election from Majuli constituency, while Gogoi who is eyeing the CM’s chair for the fourth time will fight from Titabor.
Of the 65 constituencies that are going to polls, 45 are in the Brahmaputra Valley, five in hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao and 15 in the Barak Valley.
The BJP is contesting in 54 seats, while the alliance partners–AGP are contesting in 11 constituencies and BPF in three, the AIUDF in 27, the CPI and CPM in 10 each with CPI(ML)(L) in six 13 independents The Congress is contesting all 65 constituencies in the first phase. The Congress is contesting all 65 constituencies.
Security has been tightened with Karimnaganj district of Barak Valley along Indo-Bangla border having been sealed. As many as 40,000 security personnel have been deployed in the 65 constituencies spread across Upper Assam, hill districts, northern banks and Barak Valley.