West Bengal will go for its penultimate state of polling today. Though the covid-19 is on a rising spree and West Bengal too has been witnessing a sharp rise in cases, so far people have taken interest in the voting in the previous poll phases till now. The states supremo and leader of the TMC Mamata Banerjee’s former seat Bhabanipur and three ministers are among the most important names in who will be part of the game today.
Following restrictions imposed by the poll body in response to an increase in Covid cases in the state, campaigning for the seventh phase has been low-key. These included the prohibition of roadshows and rallies, the limitation of daily campaigning hours, and the extension of the “silence period” from 48 to 72 hours.
On Sunday evening, Bengal reported 15,889 new cases in 24 hours, a record high for daily new cases and an increase from 14,281 the previous day. The state also reported 57 Covid-related deaths in 24 hours, a slight decrease from the 59 reported on Saturday. The poll body has also turned down requests to combine the remaining phases of the election; the BJP argued that doing so would violate the “democratic rights of the candidates.”
Union Minister Babul Supriyo, who stood from Tollygunge in the fourth phase, tested positive for a second time. Sovondeb Chattopadhyay, Bengal’s Power Minister, will contest from Bhabanipur, Chief Minister Banerjee’s current seat and the Trinamool’s since 2011, after opting to run from Nandigram to face Suvendu Adhikari. Mr Chattopadhyay will face BJP candidate Rudranil Ghosh, a former Trinamool member who left the party a few months ago.
Other prominent Trinamool candidates on the ballot today include Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee and actor Saayoni Ghosh. Mr Mukherjee will run from Ballygunge, while Ms Ghosh will run from Asansol Dakshin. Debashish Kumar of the Trinamool Congress, the party’s district chief for Kolkata South, will run against BJP Lieutenant General (retd) Subrata Saha from Rasbehari.
Over 81 lakh people will be eligible to vote in the 34 constituencies that will select their political representatives. The ruling Trinamool Congress, as well as its main rival, the BJP, will contest all available seats in this phase. The Congress-Left alliance has agreed to a split of 19:13, with the Rashtiye Secular Majlis Party (RSMP) fielding candidates from the remaining four segments.