Voting will be held across 475 seats in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry on April 6, Tuesday, the busiest day of the ongoing election season. The polling will take place in a single phase in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry while Assam will witness its third and final round of voting. This will be Bengal’s third round in the eight-phase election ending April 29.
Tamil Nadu will have a contest for 234 seats, Kerala for 140 seats, Assam for 40 constituencies, Bengal for 31 seats, and Puducherry for all 30 seats. Apart from assembly elections, two Lok Sabha seats — Malappuram and Kanyakumari — will also vote on the same day.
- A three-cornered battle is on the cards in 31 assembly seats that are set to go to polls on Tuesday in the third phase of Bengal elections, with the BJP seeking to breach TMC fortresses, and Left Front-ISF-Congress alliance hoping to make a mark in areas, where identity politics has gained ground.
- More than 78.5 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise and decide the fate of 205 candidates — prominent among them being BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, TMC minister Ashima Patra and CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly — in three districts — Howrah, Hooghly and South 24 Parganas.
- Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful voting, with 618 companies of CAPF deployed to guard 10,871 polling stations, all of which have been marked “sensitive” by the Election Commission. State police forces will also be deputed at strategic locations to aid the CAPF.
- With the Covid-19 situation in the state taking a turn for the worse, polling will be held amid strict adherence to health protocols across all 31 constituencies — 16 in South 24 Parganas (part II), seven in Howrah (part I) and eight in Hooghly (part I).
- The TMC had won all but one seat of these 31 segments in the 2016 assembly elections. The Congress had managed to bag Amta constituency in Howrah district.
- Assam is all set to witness direct and triangular contests in 40 assembly constituencies that are going to polls in the last of the three phases on Tuesday to decide the fate of 337 candidates, including senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his five cabinet colleagues and BJP state unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass.
- A direct contest between nominees of the BJP-led NDA and Congress-headed Grand Alliance is on the cards in 20 constituencies while there is a triangular fight, including friendly contests, in the remaining seats with the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) being considered as the third force.
- The newly floated AJP is contesting in 22 seats while there are 126 independents in the fray in the final phase of the election in which the BJP-led coalition is seeking to return to power for the second term in a row.
- Polling will begin at 7 am and end at 6 pm, with the timing extended by an hour to ensure that COVID protocols are maintained in the constituencies spread across 12 districts.
- There are 25 women candidates contesting in this phase.
- The fate of 20 sitting MLAs – eight from the Congress, five from the BJP, three each from the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the BPF and one from the AGP — will be decided in the final phase.
- After weeks-long stormy campaign sessions, marathon rallies and mammoth road shows, Kerala is all set to go to polls on Tuesday with 2.74 crore voters exercising their franchise to decide the fate of 957 candidates including high-profile leaders and independents in 140 Assembly constituencies across the state.
- The total electorate in the state includes 1,32,83,724 male voters, 1,41,62,025 female voters and 290 transgenders, according to Election Commission figures.
- An array of ministers and several sitting MLAs from both the traditionalcoalitions- the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-headed United Democratic Front (UDF) are seeking another term in the April 6 polls.
- Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, health minister K K Shailaja, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, Power Minister M M Mani and Higher Education Minister K K Jaleel are among the prominent personalities trying their electoral luck from the ruling side.
- Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, senior leaders K Muraleedharan, P T Thomas and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan are among those contesting from the UDF fold.
- The election is crucial for an array of BJP leaders including former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan, ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, who joined the saffron party recently, state president K Surendran, senior leader Shobha Surendran, Rajya Sabha members Suresh Gopi and K J Alphons and others.
- The April 6 poll is equally significant for Kerala Congress (M) chief Jose K Mani who recently snapped decades- long ties with the UDF and joined hands with the Left front.
- It would be a litmus test especially for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi personally as he had camped in the state for several days and taken part in dozens of corner meetings and rallies across Kerala to campaign for the UDF.
- The ruling LDF is hoping to retain power for a second consecutive term breaking the state’s four-decades-old trend of alternating between the UDF every five year.
- While the UDF is all confident to form their government when the results are out on May 2, the BJP-led NDA is leaving no stone unturned to garner maximum number of seats to become a decisive force in the state’s rule.
- Polling on April 6 will decide whether it will a hat-trick of terms for the AIADMK or the return of DMK after a decade in opposition. As many as 3,998 candidates, including Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam, DMK President MK Stalin, AMMK founder TTV Dhinakaran, actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan, Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman and BJP state unit chief L Murugan are in the fray.
- Leaders, including Palaniswami and Stalin hit the campaign trail on the last day, even as they have been criss-crossing the state for hectic electioneering, the former in a bid to ensure a record third term, while the latter is keen to upset his rival’s chances.
- National leaders–Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi were among those who campaigned for the respective ruling and opposition alliances.
- Over 6.28 crore eligible voters will choose 234 members of the 3,998 contesting the elections. In their “final appeal” to voters, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam sought votes to ensure “Amma rule” continued in the state, referring to the party-led government. AIADMK is part of the NDA, the other constituents being the BJP, PMK and some local outfits. They sought support for the alliance party candidates also.
- The two leaders said in a statement that late chief minister M G Ramachandran had founded AIADMK to protect people of Tamil Nadu from the “evil force” DMK. The party was luring women voters with false promises and only the AIADMK can assure a peaceful, welfare state with all-round development, they said. “Let’s stop the evil force from rearing its head again in order to protect the people of Tamil Nadu. This will be the gratitude we can show to Puratchi Thalaivar (Ramachandran) and Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (Late J Jayalalithaa) for their selfless work,” they said.
- DMK leader Stalin, meanwhile, sought an opportunity for the party-led Secular Progressive Alliance.
- “Let the Rising Sun (DMK symbol) rise. Let’s retrieve our lost rights. Let’s make Tamil Nadu hold its head high,” Stalin, who has been accusing the ruling AIADMK of compromising on state’s rights on issues such as NEET, said in a tweet.
- The DMK has been in the opposition since 2011 when the AIADMK under Jayalalithaa stormed to the ruling saddle and also retained power in the subsequent elections in 2016.
The union territory of Puducherry has 30 assembly seats, of which five are reserved for the Scheduled Caste candidates. The voting will take place on April 6 in a single phase. The UT has been under President’s rule since the Congress-led government collapsed on February 22. A total of 1,558 polling stations, including 952 main and 606 auxiliary ones, have been set up in Puducherry in 635 locations.
Congress is contesting 14 of 30 seats. Meanwhile, ally DMK is fighting on 13 while VCK and Communist Party of India on 1 each. The UT has an electorate of 10.03 lakh. (With PTI inputs)