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West Bengal phase 3 voting today: Swapan, Ashima among 205 candidates

Three districts in West Bengal will witness a three-cornered contest for 31 assembly seats between the ruling Trinamool, BJP and Left Front-led Sanjukta Morcha in the third phase of Assembly polls on Tuesday.

Total 205 candidates, including 13 women, have been fielded — prominent among them are TMC MLAs Ashima Patra (Dhanekhali) and Namita Saha ( Magrahat Purba), BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta (Tarakeswar) and CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly (Raidighi). Among these candidates, the TMC and BJP have fielded 31 candidates each; 13 each by the BSP and CPI(M); seven by the Congress; two by the All India Forward Bloc; one by the Revolutionary Socialist Party; 68 independents; and 39 from other parties. The 31 seats are spread over South 24 Parganas (16), Hooghly (8) and Howrah (7). Total 78,52,425 people, including 3858902 women, are eligible to cast their vote.

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. The saffron party, however, left the Left and the Congress behind to emerge as the main contender of the Mamata Banerjee-led party after the 2019 general election.

The Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency, held by political heavyweight and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, will be closely watched, as four of its seven assembly segments will go to polls in the third phase, and the rest will follow suit in the fourth phase on April 10.

The Indian Secular Front (ISF), floated by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, has turned out to be a cause of concern for the TMC, as the outfit holds sway in several parts of South 24 Parganas and Hooghly districts.

After the Nandigram violence, the EC has tightened security. All 10,871 polling booths will be manned by central forces. Twenty-two general observers, nine expenditure observers and seven police observers will keep an eye on the poll process. More than 600 companies have been deployed for the third phase.

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With the recent hike in daily Covid-19 cases, the EC has asked officials to ensure strict adherence to Covid -appropriate behaviour at the polling booth.

Other prominent names in the third phase are TMC’s Sujata Mandol (Arambag), wife of BJP MP Soumitra Khan; TMC’s Karabi Manna (Haripal); actor-turned-BJP leader Tanusree Chakraborty (Shyampur); and actor Papiya Adhikari of BJP (Uluberia Dakshin).

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