Bengal polls: 205 candidates will fight it out at 31 seats in third phase

Swapan Dasgupta, the BJP’s Rajya Sabha member who resigned from the Parliament to contest the local elections, is contesting against the TMC’s Ramendu Singha at the Tarakeshwar seat in Hooghly district.

In more than 20 of the 31 assembly seats that go to the polls in the third phase in West Bengal on Tuesday, the contest between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be close because of the demographics of these constituencies and strong presence of the ruling party.

The polls will be held in Hooghly, South 24 Parganas and Howrah districts. Out of the 205 candidates in the race, only 13 are women. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has deployed more than 62,000 central armed police personnel for the third phase.

Like the second phase, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) will be enforced around the 10,871 polling booths in the three districts on Tuesday to stop assembly of more than four people.

The number of electors in the third phase is 78,52,425 of whom a little less than half are women while 243 belong to the third gender.

In Hooghly district, where eight seats go to the polls, the BJP made sizeable inroads in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Actor-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee managed to wrest the Hooghly Lok Sabha seat while the BJP lost the Arambagh seat by about a thousand votes only.

Chatterjee, who is one of the four BJP Lok Sabha members contesting in the eight-phase elections, has been fielded from the Chinsurah assembly seat which is part of her Lok Sabha segment.

Having promised to enforce the new citizenship law in Bengal if it comes to power, the BJP has set its eyes on the scheduled caste population, for whom the Dhaniakhali, Goghat and Arambagh seats are reserved.

Arambagh is likely to witness the most fierce contest, all parties say. The TMC has fielded Sujata Mondal Khan, the estranged wife of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) state president and Lok Sabha member Saumitra Khan from this seat. Sujata Mondal Khan joined the TMC in December after her husband sent a legal notice for divorce following a marital dispute. He announced his decision during a press conference, making the incident a first of its kind in Bengal politics.

Swapan Dasgupta, the BJP’s Rajya Sabha member who resigned from the Parliament to contest the local elections, is contesting against the TMC’s Ramendu Singha at the Tarakeshwar seat in Hooghly district. “I tried to meet as many people as possible,” Dasgupta told the local media during a door-to-door campaign on Saturday.

Debjit Sarkar, the former state president of the BJYM, is contesting for the Jangipara seat. “I contested the local Lok Sabha seat but the situation is quite different now. I have felt the tension in some areas,” Sarkar, who could not win in 2019, told HT on Monday night.

In Hooghly district, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), is contesting only the Arambagh and Tarakeshwar seats.

In South 24 Parganas district, where as many as 16 assembly segments are going to the polls, several are part of the Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency held by chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee. The TMC’s youth wing president held five rallies and roadshows as campaigning came to a close at 5 pm on Sunday.

The district, with 31 assembly constituencies, is a TMC stronghold. In the 2016 state polls, the ruling party won 29 seats. In 2019, when the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats and even made a dent in the adjacent North 24 Parganas district, voters in South 24 Parganas remained loyal to the TMC. Abhishek Banerjee won from Diamond Harbour for the second time by a margin of 3,00,000 votes.

Muslims comprise a sizeable section of the population in many assembly segments such as Canning East, Baruipur East, Baruipur West and Diamond Harbour. While this may make the contest easier for the TMC, since Muslims have backed the party consistently, allegations of corruption during distribution of relief for victims of cyclone Amphan has been made the main election issue by the BJP and the Indian Secular Front founded by cleric Abbasuddin Siddiqui.

 

Magrahat East, Bishnupur, Mandirbazar, Joynagar, Basanti, Kultali and Canning West are reserved for scheduled caste candidates. In these seats, the Left parties had a strong presence till 2016 and the Marxists are desperate to make a comeback. At Raidighi, CPI(M) stalwart and former minister Kanti Ganguly, is contesting the seat again.

The CPI(M) is contesting nine seats in South 24 Parganas, including Kultali which witnessed violence in almost all elections in the past. On Monday evening, BJP and TMC workers exchanged allegations of violence at Kultali.

In Howrah, where the TMC has a strong presence, only seven seats are going to the polls. Out of these, the BJP intends to put up a tough fight at Udaynarayanpur, Jagatballavpur, Uluberia North and Uluberia South although the size of the Muslim population in these zones can make things difficult for the saffron camp.

Actress Tanushree Chakraborty, who joined the BJP in March, has been fielded from Shyampur.

The ECI has organised the International Virtual Election Visitors Programme (IEVP) 2021 for foreign election management bodies during the elections in four states and Puducherry on Tuesday.

“The ongoing elections in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have an electorate of over 187.2 million, one of the largest in the world to vote so far amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a good opportunity to share our best practices and experience of conduct of our poll process as well as steps taken to mitigate the effect of pandemic,” the ECI said in a statement.

Over 106 delegates from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Panama, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Suriname, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Zambia are going to participate in IEVP 2021, the statement added.

TMC candidate courts controversy as video goes viral

Kolkata, Apr 3 Actor-turned-Trinamool Congress

contestant Koushani Mukherjee courted controversy on Saturday as a video with her purported comment "Please think before you cast votes, you have mother, sister at home" went viral.

Koushani, who had joined Trinamool Congress two months ago and is in the fray in Krishnagar seat claimed that a part of her comment was taken out of context and put in the video by BJP's IT cell to give it a different meaning..

"I had sought to project the fact that Bengal is the safest state for women, unlike BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh where women were raped in Hathras and their parents were shot at for protesting. The BJP IT cell edited the footage for cheap politics," she said in a statement.

Koushani also posted a video of what she claimed was her original comment on her Facebook page in which she is seen walking in her constituency canvassing for votes and telling voters "Think twice before voting for BJP, you have your mother and sisters at home".

She is also seen saying "In Didi's Bengal women are safe. Don't vote for BJP if you don't want Bengal to turn into another Hathras in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh."

Actor-turned BJP leader Rupa Bhattacharya hit out at Koushani in a post saying "The utterances of the so called actress turned politicians like you make our heads hang in shame."

"An actress should have a refined taste ... If you think that by making such an ugly comment you will endear yourself to Trinamool Congress workers, rest assured they will hate your hypocrisy from the bottom of their heart," Bhattacharya said.

Trinamool Congress minister Sashi Panja said part of Koushani's comments were kept in the edited video but not the entire footage.

Mamata Banerjee sharpens attack on EC, says ‘whatever you try, BJP will not win’

  • Mamata Banerjee also trained guns at Union home minister Amit Shah saying he was instructing central forces to assist “BJP goons.”

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee sharpened her stance against the Election Commission of India alleging that the poll body was siding with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and also accused it of inaction over several complaints filed by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday.

“Whatever you (Election Commission) try, BJP will not win. In Nandigram, 90% of the votes will go to TMC,” Banerjee was quoted as saying by news agency ANI, after she visited one of the polling stations in the Nandigram constituency and alleged that many voters were not being allowed to vote. She also lodged a complaint regarding the same with governor Jagdeep Dhankar over the same.

The West Bengal chief minister’s comments come after chaos for nearly two hours when she reached the polling booth to oversee the voting process. Intense sloganeering could be heard as Banerjee sat inside the booth, with loud iterations of BJP's 'Jai Shree Ram', ANI reported.

The TMC supremo also trained guns at Union home minister Amit Shah saying he was instructing central forces to assist “BJP goons.” “Home Minister himself is instructing CRPF, BSF, and other jawans to help only BJP and its goons. I apologise to my Election Commission for their silence. We have given so many letters but they are one-sidedly supporting BJP candidates,” she was quoted as saying.

Banerjee claimed that 63 complaints regarding booth capturing have been sent to the EC and slammed the poll body for “inaction.”

The EC, meanwhile, sought a detailed report from the administration in connection with an incident of violence in Boyal area in Nandigram, news agency PTI reported.

Her opponent from the Nandigram seat, Suvendu Adhikari, who was once known to be Banerjee’s close aide, accused her of disrupting polling for nearly two hours and said that she was indulging in “drama”. “Mamata stalled voting for 2 hours here. Around 90% of voting has happened in Nandigram but it is only 78% at this booth. Voting is going on peacefully here. There is no issue. There is no worker of TMC in this area. She is doing drama,” the BJP leader told ANI.

Voting is being held across 30 constituencies of the eastern state in the second phase of assembly elections. West Bengal is witnessing polls in eight phases ending April 29. The results of the assembly elections will be declared on May 2.

Bengal polls: Mamata intensifies efforts to win over Nandigram voters before campaigning ends

Her campaign in the high-stakes constituency will begin at 11 am on Monday with an 8-kilometre roadshow from Khudiram More to Thakurchowk in Nandigram Block 2.

Mamata releases TMC manifesto, promises income for all

Kolkata, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday unveiled the partys manifesto for the assembly polls promising a monthly Universal Basic Income for all families, a credit card scheme for students to pursue higher studies and formation of a task force to examine the inclusion of several backward communities under the OBC category.

Amid the allegation by the BJP that the TMC is engaged in the politics of appeasement, the manifesto, unlike previous years, did not have any special scheme or project for the minority community, which has been a major support base of the party till the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The manifesto also vowed to build a "model Nandigram" with the supply of electricity 24X7, piped water and well connected roads. Banerjee, who had announced this recently, is contesting the poll from the Nandigram seat where she has been pitted against her protg-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari.

Claiming that her government has reduced poverty in the state by 40 per cent, the manifesto promised to increase annual financial aid to farmers from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000.

Christened as "Didi'r 10 Angikar (10 Resolutions of Didi)", the manifesto also listed projects for improving the economy and the health sector, creation of jobs, food security and providing affordable housing, electricity and piped drinking water to people.

The BJP, however, termed the manifesto as a "jumla" (false promise) to fool the people of the state ahead of the elections.

Taking a leaf out of the Congress's promise of Universal Basic Income promise during the Lok Sabha polls of 2019, Banerjee reached out to the 49 per cent women electorate of the state by promising that the woman guardian of every general category family will get Rs 500 every month, while the amount will be Rs 1,000 for SC/ST/OBC families.

The chief minister also announced a pension of Rs 1,000 to widows above 18 years of age.

"After forming the government, we helped lakhs of widows, senior citizens, and specially-abled people through monetary assistance. For the first time, every family in Bengal will be extended a minimum basic income. Under this (Universal Basic Income) scheme, the direct transfers will be made to the woman head of a family," Banerjee said.

Targeting the students' community and first-time voters, she said that a student credit card scheme will be introduced with a credit limit of Rs 10 lakh and an interest rate of only 4 per cent will be charged.

Reaching out to the Hindu backward communities and castes, which the BJP has been trying to tap, Banerjee said that a Special Task Force will be formed to examine and propose OBC status to communities that are not currently recognised as so.

It will help people belonging to communities such as Mahisya, Tili, Tamul, Sahas, the TMC boss said adding that they were part of the list of OBC communities recommended by the Mandal Commission.

"Along with this, expeditious closure will be ensured for the demands of Kisan Jatis living as STs in parts of Malda district. I will also aggressively follow up with the Government of India for granting ST status to the Mahato community," she said.

Her statement came a day after BJP president J P Nadda promised that if voted to power in the state, the party will include all the 'left out' Hindu castes in the OBC list. Teli, Mahato and Mahisya are among such castes found in the state's Bankura and Purulia districts.

Asked if this announcement is a reply to the BJPs strategy to woo the Hindu backward castes, she said, "It is the other way round. Our manifesto was ready by March 9, but its release got delayed due to various reasons."

"Maybe the BJP has copied my manifesto from the Election Commission and are making promises. We all know that the EC is being guided by the BJP," the TMC supremo said.

On the politically crucial Darjeeling hills and North Bengal, Banerjee said for the holistic development of Terai- Dooars region, the state government will set up a Special Development Board which will have proportional representation from all communities of the area.

The manifesto promised that in the coming days, a new facility under the state governments Khadya Sathi scheme will ensure delivery of monthly ration to 1.5 crore families at their doorstep.

Amid the criticism that her government did not allow the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in the state, Banerjee promised to increase the annual aid to 68 lakh small and marginal farmers from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 under the Krishak Bandhu Scheme.

Under the central scheme, farmers get Rs 6,000 a year.

Promising 5 lakh jobs every year, the chief minister said that the TMC government in its third term would add 2,000 big industrial units to the existing base of 10,000 units in the next five years.

"We will set up 10 lakh new MSMEs and 2000 new big industrial units in the next five years. New investments worth Rs 5 lakh crore will come in the next five years," she said.

While promising affordable housing, the manifesto stated that under the Bengal Awas Yojana, an additional 25 lakh low-cost houses will be built, and each house will have tap water facility and an improved drainage system.

"Five lakh more low-cost houses will be built under the Banglar Bari scheme in urban areas to reduce slum population from 7 per cent to 3.65 per cent," it said.

Amid criticism by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the state's dismal performance in the Jal Jeevan Mission scheme, the manifesto promised piped drinking water facilities to 47 lakh households to ensure 100 per cent coverage.

The BJP, however, claimed that the TMC' manifesto is nothing but an effort by the ruling party to hoodwink people.

"From the promises, it seems they have done nothing in the last 10 years. Now, ahead of the assembly polls, they are trying to fool the masses. But people will give the TMC a befitting reply in the election," BJP state spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said.

CM Mamata Banerjee to hold roadshow on wheelchair in Kolkata

Elections to 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will conduct a roadshow, days after sustaining injuries during election campaigning, on a wheelchair from Gandhi Murti to Hazra here on Sunday, Trinamool Congress (TMC) party sources said. She will address a public rally at Hazra this afternoon. It will be her first public appearance after she was allegedly attacked by some people in Nandigram earlier this week.

On March 10, the Chief Minister, who was on a two-day visit to Nandigram from where she filed her nomination, alleged that she was pushed by a few unidentified people during her election campaigning. Later, she was brought to Kolkata's SSKM Hospital by road from Nandigram.

Banerjee sustained "severe bone injuries" on her left foot and ankle as well as bruises and injuries on her shoulder, forearm and neck, according to the report of her initial medical examination.

The Chief Minister was discharged from the hospital on March 12.

"Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has responded well to the treatment. The six-member board has re-examined her health condition. We have opened the plaster cast. Fresh plaster has been applied. She has been discharged with appropriate instructions, after her repeated requests. She has been advised to revisit after seven days," the medical board of the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata told reporters.

On Friday, a delegation of six MPs of Trinamool Congress (TMC) met the Election Commission officials in the national capital to raise their concern over the Nandigram incident. "The events/actions leading up to the attempt on her life, leave no doubt that the attack was premeditated and part of a deep-rooted conspiracy," read a letter by the TMC to the Election Commission.

A BJP delegation also met the Election Commission of India and demanded an impartial probe into an alleged attack on Mamata Banerjee.

Commenting on the incident, West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused Mamata Banerjee of resorting to 'nautanki' (theatrics), "This is 'siyasi pakhand' (hypocrisy) to gain sympathy. Before polls, she (Mamata Banerjee) planned this 'nautanki' after sensing difficulties in Nandigram," Chowdhury had said.

West Bengal is likely to witness a triangular contest this time with TMC, Congress-Left alliance and the BJP in the fray.

Elections to 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

(With ANI inputs)

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Mamata releases message from hospital, says, 'Please be calm'

In her message, Mamata said she will not be rescheduling her election work as she hopes to get fine within two to three days.

A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was allegedly attacked in Nandigram, she released a video message urging people, party workers to be calm and exercise restraint. She also said she will not be affecting her election work for the injury but will have to remain wheel-chair-bound for some time.

"It's true that I have been injured severely yesterday. I have pain in my hand, leg. There are ligament injuries too. Yesterday, I experienced pain in my head and chest. I was offering my prayer at that time. There was such a massive push that my leg got squeezed by the car," Mamata can be seen saying in the video.

"Will request everyone to be calm and exercise restraint. Don't do anything to inconvenience others. I hope to get back to my work within two to three days. I will have some problem working but I will manage. Won't cancel my meetings. But probably I will remain in the wheelchair for some time. Please cooperate with me," the Trinamool supremo said from the hospital.

The video was shared on Twitter by the All India Trinamool Congress on Thursday.

After the episode, Mamata was brought to Kolkata's SSKM hospital through a green corridor and has been admitted since then. SSKM director Monimoy Banerjee said Banerjee has a severe bone injury in her left ankle. "There were marks of injury in her right shoulder, right forearm and neck. She was complaining of chest pain and had trouble breathing," the director said.

Mamata's video can be seen as a message to her party workers who blocked trains near Kadambagachi station on the Sealdah–Hasnabad line to protest against the attack.

Input: hindustantimes

'Attack' on Mamata Banerjee at Nandigram: ECI seeks report, says official

Kolkata, Mar 10 : The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday sought a report from the state police on the alleged attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Nandigram constituency, in which she was injured, an official said.

The Trinamool Congress supremo was injured in the leg after being allegedly pushed by unidentified people near a temple at Reyapara area during campaigning at Nandigram, where the BJP pitted her protege-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari against her.

'We have sought a report from the state police administration. The report must be sent quickly,' the official of the state CEO's office said.

Banerjee alleged that no local police personnel were near her when four or five people might have deliberately pushed her causing the injury.

West Bengal Assembly elections | Mamata Banerjee files nomination from Nandigram

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday filed her nomination from Nandigram to contest the Assembly poll.

Ms. Banerjee was accompanied by Trinamool Congress State president Subrata Bakshi at the office of Subdivisional Officer (SDO), Haldia.

Before submitting her nomination, she held a road show for about a kilometre to the SDO office. Thousands of people took part in the event, which saw posters with the Trinamool Congress’s new slogan “Bangla Nijer Mein kei Chai” (Bengal wants its own daughter). Earlier in the day, the Trinamool chairperson visited a temple in Nandigram.

“Nandigram is not a new place for me. When Nandigram was in the grip of violence, many brave leaders of Medinipur did not come out of their houses. But I was always there,” Ms. Banerjee said, taking a swipe at political opponent Suvendu Adhikari.

The Chief Minister said that she always dreamt of contesting from Singur or Nandigram, the two places synonymous in the fight against forcible land acquisition.

The Nandigram contest is key in West Bengal, with Ms. Banerjee pitted against former aide Mr. Adhikari of the BJP.

Mr. Adhikari also held a rally in Nadigram and said that he will file his nomination on March 12. The Assembly seat located in Purba Medinipur will go to the polls on April 1.

Input: thehindu

 

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West Bengal Polls: It’s Suvendu Adhikari vs Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram

It’s Suvendu Adhikari vs Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram

Kolkata: The party’s general secretary also announced the names of 56 candidates for the assembly elections out of which 6 candidates were given to women.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Suvendu Adhikari will contest against chief minister Mamata Banerjee from his home turf of Nandigram in the West Bengal assembly elections to be held later this month, setting the stage for one of the most-watched electoral battles in the state, the BJP announced on Saturday. Adhikari’s name figured in the opposition party’s first list of 57 candidates for the March-April assembly elections, out of which six are women and one seat has been given to the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU).

The BJP’s candidates’ list came a day after the Trinamool Congress chief declared the names of those who will contest in the eight-phase polls in the state from March 27.

Banerjee had on Friday announced that she will also be contesting from Nandigram. Adhikari, who joined the BJP last year, had said that he will leave no stone unturned to defeat the Trinamool Congress government in the state. Adhikari also said that if he does not defeat Banerjee by more than 50,000 votes then he would quit politics.

“Write this down and mention the date and time. I will leave politics if I cannot defeat her by half lakh (50,000) votes,” Adhikari had during a rally in south Kolkata. He had also asked the Bengal chief minister to prepare a letterhead with ‘former chief minister’ written on it.

The battle for Nandigram is important as it was vital for the rise of the Trinamool Congress a decade earlier and Suvendu Adhikari and his brother Soumendu Adhikari had played a huge role in the anti-land acquisition movement based on which the TMC defeated the Left Front government in 2011.

Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari in 2007 had spearheaded the anti-land acquisition which catapulted the Trinamool Congress to political prominence and after which it won the panchayat elections in 2008, Lok Sabha elections in 2009, municipal polls in 2010 and recorded a huge victory ousting the Left Front government from power in the 2011 legislative assembly elections. Adhikari was vital for that win because he and his family were instrumental in expanding TMC’s base in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura which were formerly Left Front’s bastions.

"I have recently been to Durgapur and I have seen that people are seeking a change. They want to break free from the tyranny of the current government," the BJP's general secretary Arun Singh said on Saturday while releasing the candidates' list.

The BJP’s list also featured former Bengal cricketer Ashok Dinda and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Bharati Ghosh. Elections in the eastern state will be held in eight phases from March 27. The votes will be counted on May 2.

Input: hindustantimes

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