Campaigning ends for first phase of Bengal polls

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Kolkata, April 2 (IANS) Campaigning came to an end on Saturday in the first phase of the West Bengal assembly poll, involving 18 seats across three districts in the state’s western part.

Polling in the 18 constituencies – nine in Purulia, three in Bankura and six in West Medinipur – would be conducted on Monday, and in 13 of them, regarded as Maoist-affected, will end two hours early at 4 p.m.

The campaign ended in these seats at 4 p.m., and in the remaining five constituencies at 6 p.m.

The fate of 133 candidates from all major forces – the Trinamool Congress, the Left Front-Congress combination and the Bharatiya Janata Party – will be decided by the more than 40 lakh (40,01,429)-strong electorate. A total of 4,945 polling stations including five auxiliary stations have been set up.

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Among major candidates are state minister Sukumar Hansda of the Trinamool and former MP Pulin Bihari Baske (CPI-M). As many as 21 candidates have declared criminal cases against them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee and Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra hit the campaign trail, while the Narada sting operation which shows Trinamool leaders allegedly accepting bribes and the Kolkata flyover tragedy seemed to be the main talking points.

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