West Bengal Election 2021 | Voters standing outside a polling booth in Bengal (File image: AFP)
Campaigning for the eighth and the final phase of the West Bengal assembly election has ended and voting for 35 seats will be held on April 29.
These constituencies are spread across four districts—six in Malda, 11 in Murshidabad, seven in Kolkata North and 11 in Birbhum. The polling will be held between 7 am and 6.30 pm at 11,860 polling stations. A total of 84,77,728 voters—43,55,835 male, 41,21,735 women and 158 of the third gender—are eligible to exercise their franchise and decide the fate of 283 candidates.
Five assembly constituencies in Kolkata North—Beleghata, Jorsanko, Shyampukur, Maniktala, Kashipur-Belgachia—will be closely watched as the ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP are tied in a tight contest.
In Shyampukur, minister of state for women and child development and social welfare Shashi Panja is up against BJP's Sandipan Biswas and AIFB's Jiban Prakash Saha. TMC has fielded Paresh Paul against BJP's Kashinath Biswas and CPI-M's Rajib Biswas in Beleghata.
In Jorasnko, BJP has fielded Meena Devi Purohit, TMC Vivek Gupta and Congress Ajmal Khan. TMC's Atin Ghosh will face BJP's Sibaji Sinha Roy and CPI(M)'s Pratip Dasgupta in Kashipur-Belgachia.
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A close contest is also expected in Maniktala assembly seat where Consumer Affairs Minister and TMC veteran Sadhan Pandey faces former India footballer and BJP candidate Kalyan Chaubey and CPI(M)'s Rupa Bagchi.
Of the 283 candidates in the running, 64 have criminal cases against them. Let us look at what their affidavits say on criminal cases, financial assets, educational qualifications, and gender representation as published by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
This analysis is based on sworn affidavits submitted by the candidates while filing their election papers.
Among the 283 candidates, 64 have declared criminal cases against themselves. This means 23 percent of candidates in the fray face criminal charges. Of these, 21 are from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 11 from the Trinamool Congress (TMC), 10 from the Indian National Congress (Congress) and seven from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M).
Out of 64, 50 have serious criminal cases against themselves. Twelve of the candidates have been accused of crime against women.
Red-alert constituencies: Among the 35 constituencies, 11 are so-called "red-alert constituencies, as or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
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As many as 55 candidates have declared assets worth more than Rs one crore. Of these, 28 are from the TMC, 12 from the BJP, five from the Congress and one from the CPI(M).
BJP leader Tapas Kumar Yadav tops the list, with assets worth over 34 crore (34,60,93,674).
A total of 127 candidates are either graduates or more. As many as 152 candidates fall in the 5th-12th pass bracket. Two candidates are just literate and two candidates are unlettered.
Among the 283 contesting candidates, 81 have declared their age to be between 25 and 40 years, while 158 are aged between 41 and 60 years. There are 44 candidates who are aged between 61 and 80 years.
Of the total candidates contesting in 35 constituencies of West Bengal, currently ruled by a woman chief minister, only 35 are women.