An unprecedented situation forms the backdrop of the sixth phase of Assembly elections in Bengal tomorrow when the chiefs of the major political parties have cut short their campaign time amidst a raging Covid second wave. In all, 43 Assembly segments are going to the polls in North and South Bengal in which there is a fair sprinkling of the political heavyweights and new but much adored faces from the silver screen who aspire to be people’s representatives.
In North Dinajpur, apart from minister Gulam Rabbani contesting from Goalpokhar, some heavyweight leaders in the poll fray include Congress veteran Mohit Sengupta from Raigunj, Forward Bloc’s Ali Imran Ramz from Chakulia, Trinamul’s Abdul Karim Chowdhury from Islampur. Ranigunj seat will witness a seesaw contest between Trinamul’s Kanaialal Agarwal, a sitting MLA from Islampur and veteran Congress leader Mohit Sengupta.
The contest for Itahar constituency is no less interesting after Trinamul supremo Mamata Banerjee denied ticket to Amal Acharya, the sitting MLA who later defected to BJP. The CPI, a part of the Sanyukta Morcha, has fielded former minister Srikumar Mukherjee who had earlier won from this seat.
All eyes are on Krishnanagar (North) where one of the BJP’s vice-presidents, Mukul Roy, will be contesting against film actress Koushani Mukherjee of Trinamul Congress. In Nadia, veteran Trinamul leaders like Kallol Khan from Nakasipara, Pundarikshya (Nanda) Saha from Nabadwip and Rukbanur Rehaman from Chapra are in the fray. Recently, the Trinamul Congress suspended block president Jaber Sheik of Chapra for anti-party activities and now he is contesting as an Independent candidate.
State jail minister Ujjwal Biswas is contesting from Krishnanagar (South). In North 24-Parganas, state food and supplies minister Jyotipriya Mullick is contesting from Habra. In the 2019 election, Matua votes from Bongoan, Gaighata, Habra and Ashokenagar had switched over to the BJP. and thereafter the Trinamul government had constituted a Matua board and set up a college in the name of PR Thakur, Harichand Guruchand University and recognised all Matua colonies.
It remains to be seen what quantum of Matua votes TMC can wrest from the BJP in this election. Actor and director Raj Chakraborty is contesting from Barrackpore. The sitting MLA Shilbhadra Dutta of Barrackpore having defected to the saffron camp is pitted against a new Trinamul candidate, Kajal Sinha, in Kardha as the state finance minister Amit Mitra is not contesting this time. Minister of state for health, Chandrima Bhattacharya is contesting from Dum Dum (North) and veteran Trinamul Youth leader, Partha Bhowmick from Naihati.
Minister Swapan Debnath will contest from Purbasthali (South) and TMC candidate Rabindranath Chatterjee from Katwa. Minister Siddiqulla Chowdhury, a sitting MLA of Mangalkot chose to contest from Manteshar following differences with party strongman, Anubrata Mondal. In his place, Apurbra Chowdhury will contest from Mangalkot.
In the wake of violence during earlier phases of the election, the Election Commission of India has decided to deploy at least 1,071 companies of Central forces in the sixth phase, an EC official said.