Campaigning ends for Bengal polls fifth phase

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Kolkata, April 28 (IANS) Campaigning ended on Thursday for the fifth phase of the West Bengal assembly elections involving 53 seats in three districts where balloting will take place on April 30.

With big rallies, road shows, street corner meetings and last minute door-to-door contact with voters, canvassing reached a peak over the past couple of days, before coming to an end at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Of the constituencies in this phase, 31 are in South 24 Parganas, 18 in Hooghly and 4 in Kolkata South.

Nearly 1.24 crore (1,23,97,832) voters across 14,642 polling stations, including 77 auxiliary booths, are eligible to decide the fate of 349 candidates — 43 of them female. The Election Commission will use 16,838 EVMs and 1,024 VVPATs.

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In this phase, Chunchura in Hooghly district is the largest constituency electorate-wise, and Kultali in South 24 Parganas district the biggest in terms of area. Kulpi constituency in the same district has the least number of electors.

Star campaigners who hit the canvassing trail for this phase included BJP’s national president Amit Shah, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice presdient Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.

Rahul Gandhi and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya campaigned jointly in favour of the newly formed Congress and Left Front alliance.

All eyes will be on south Kolkata’s Bhabanipur, where Mamata Banerjee — seeking re-election — is facing a challenge from Left Front-backed Congress nominee Deepa Dasmunshi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose of the BJP.

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Among other major candidates are ministers Arup Biswas and Manish Gupta — both from Trinamool — and CPI-M nominees Rabin Deb and Sujan Chakraborty.

State ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, the city’s mayor Shovan Chatterjee and Trinamool candidate Iqbal Ahmed, who are accused of taking bribes as shown in the Narada sting operation, are also in the fray.

Another star candidate is Abdur Rezzak Mollah, a prominent minister during the Left Front regime, who is contesting on a Trinamool ticket from Bhangore in South 24 Parganas.

Of the 349 candidates in the fray, 43 are crorepatis while the average assets of the candidates are Rs.70.78 lakh.

In addition, 67 have criminal cases against them and 39 have declared serious criminal offences like murder and rape against their name.

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