The Election Commission (EC) on February 26 announced the Legislative Assembly election schedule for four
states-Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and a Union Territory - Puducherry.
West Bengal is arguably the biggest election prize that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been eyeing in recent times. The state is witnessing the most high-stakes battle with two-time chief minister Mamata Banerjee facing a tough challenge from the BJP amid a series of defections from her Trinamool Congress to the saffron party and corruption investigations against her party leaders, including her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.
READ: Assam Election 2021: Key dates, main players, alliance composition; here's everything you need to know
In the first phase today, 30 assembly seats are going to polls in West Bengal. These seats come under Purulia, Jhargram, Bankura, Purba Medinipur and Pachim Medinipur. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee's former aide and now BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, and his family, have considerable influence in Purba Medinipur. The family is also said to have some influence in adjoining districts of Pachim Medinipur, Jhargram and Bankura.
A total of 732 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed in the state for the first phase of elections in West Bengal.
The elections to 294-member West Bengal assembly will be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29.
Also, read: West Bengal polls | Dates, battle lines, key players and issues — A guide to the high-stake contest
The first phase of polling will decide the electoral fate of 191 candidates including 21 women. Some prominent names in the first phase include Srikanto Mahato, Rajib Lochan Saren and Uttam Barik of TMC and Rabindranath Maity, Chandana Bauri and Rajib Kundu from BJP.
In Assam, the voters can exercise franchise in as many as 11,530 polling booths spread across the poll-bound seats. As many as 264 candidates including 23 women are in fray in the first phase in Assam. The ruling BJP is seeking a second term with the help of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) in the state. The Congress-led 'Mahajot' and United Regional Front (URF) led by Akhil Gogoi's Raijor Dal are also in the fray.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal government is seeking a re-election in the three phase polling. Sonowal, not the chief ministerial face this time, is contesting from his seat Majuli in the first phase. Among others, Assam assembly speaker Hitendra Goswami is contesting from Jorhat while ministers Ranjit Dutta from Behali, Naba Kumar Doley from Jonai and Sanjoy Jisham from Tinsukia are also in the fray in the first phase.
The BJP had scripted history in 2016 by ending 15-year-long Congress rule.