The electoral fates of Union minister Babul Supriyo and state ministers Partha Chatterjee and Aroop Biswas are at stake when votes will be cast for the fourth phase of the Bengal Assembly elections on Saturday.
The seats which go to the polls also include Singur where a farmers’ agitation struck a nail in the Left Front’s coffin, together with some North Bengal constituencies whose voters will exercise their right to franchise for the first time in this election.
In the 40-odd seats that are going to the polls in this phase, the saffron camp has fielded Mr Supriyo, Union minister of state for environment and forest, at Tollygunge, Cooch Behar MP Nisith Pramanik at Dinhata and Hooghly MP Locket Chatterjee from Chinsura in the wake of intraparty squabbles in these constituencies.
The state education minister Partha Chatterjee heads the list of the TMC’s heavyweight candidates in this phase.
The other Trinamul leaders include PWD minister Aroop Biswas, contesting from Tollygunge, state co-operation minister Arup Roy from Howrah Central, minister for disaster management Javed Ahmed Khan from Kasba, minister of state for Information and culture,Indranil Sen from Chandannagore.
The Trinamul’s pickings from the world of glamour and sports contesting in this phase include actress Lovely Moitra, actor Kanchan Mullick, former footballer Bidesh Bose and former cricketer Manoj Tiwari.
At Singur, 89-year-old Rabindranath Bhattacharya would be contesting as a BJP candidate against his former student Bencharam Manna. Changing sides, former forest minister Rajib Banerjee is contesting as a BJP candidate from Domjur. The other Trinamul MLAs who have crossed over to the BJP include Vaishali Dalmia contesting from Bali and Prabir Ghoshal from Uttarpara.
Actresses Srabanti Chatterjee and Payel Sarkar, both BJP’s picks from the film world, are contesting from Behala (West) and Behala (East) respectively. Sarkar, incidentally, is pitted against Ratna Chatterjee in the wake of the defection of her estranged husband, former mayor Sovan Chatterjee, from the TMC.
Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, Abdul Mannan, is seeking reelection from Chapdani. At Chanditala CPI-M politburo member Md Salim is in the poll fray. In North Bengal intra party resentment emanating from demand for nominations in the polls plagued both the TMC and BJP camps.
To push dissension under the carpet, the BJP has fielded Nisith Pramanik from Dinhata while Trinamul dissident Mihir Goswami is contesting as a BJP candidate from Natabari. This phase saw heavyweight campaigners crisscrossing the entire state.
While Trinamul chief, Mamata Banerjee and the party’s youth wing president Abhishek Banerjee were the party’s chief campaigners, the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP’s national president JP Nadda made the fourth phase of campaigning~ the most high voltage one till date.
A total of 793 companies of Central forces would be deployed in the fourth phase of elections in 44 seats across five districts tomorrow. Kolkata and adjoining areas will have 101 companies of CAPF. Alipurduar and Coochbehar will have 99 and 188 companies respectively. In Howrah there will be 103 companies and 37 in Howrah Rural.
There will be 91 companies in Hooghly and 84 companies for Chandannagar alone. 39 companies will be deployed in Diamond Harbour.