Bengal polls: Third phase kicks off Saturday


Kolkata : The poll process for the third phase of the West Bengal assembly, covering 75 constituencies in Kolkata and neighbouring two districts, will start Saturday with the Election Commission issuing formal notification for the April 27 balloting.

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The 75 assembly constituencies fall mainly in Kolkata, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas districts. Last date for filing nomination papers is April 9, scrutiny of the nominations April 11 and the last date for the withdrawal of candidature is April 13.

These three districts will play a crucial role for all the political parties, especially the Left Front and Trinamool Congress, in their race for the state secretariat.

The North 24-Parganas district with 33 assembly seats has been a Left bastion for the last three decades.

During 2006 assembly polls, most of the assembly seats from the district were won by the Left Front but the political equations have drastically changed in the last three years. In the 2009 general elections, the Trinamool Congress made great inroads in the district, winning all its Lok Sabha seats.

The Left Front, however, still retains some influence in the district and a tough fight between the Left Front and the Trinamool is on the cards.

The South 24-Parganas district, with 31 assembly seats, also has been a Left Front citadel for the last three decades, but the Left’s influence has seemingly waned with the Trinamool and its alliance partners winning all the seats at stake in the district during the 2008 panchayat polls and 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Both the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress have a strong grasp over the district, where Trinamool ally Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist (SUCI-C) has a few pockets of influence.

The district also houses Jadavpur assembly constituency, represented by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Jadavpur will witness a tough fight between Bhattacharjee and former state chief secretary Manish Gupta, fighting on a Trinamool ticket.

Security has been beefed up in both North and South 24-Parganas as both the districts share a border with Bangladesh.

Kolkata district with 11 assembly constituencies has always been a power centre for the Trinamool Congress, though the Left enjoys a strong presence in several parts. But the Trinamool this time is in an advantageous position as last year it won the Kolkata Municipal Corporation with a huge margin and also secured all the Lok Sabha seats from the city during 2009 polls.

The Trinamool Congress and the Congress, along with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and SUCI-C, are jointly taking on the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front which has been ruling the state uninterruptedly since 1977.

During the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Trinamool Congress, the Congress and the SUCI-C fought together and bagged 26 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats of the state.