Kolkata, April 15 (IANS) Campaigning came to an end on Friday for the second phase of the West Bengal assembly elections, involving 56 seats in seven districts including six in north Bengal where polling will be held on April 17.
The constituencies going to the polls are five in Alipurduar, seven in Jalpaiguri, nine in north Dinajpur, six each in Darjeeling and South Dinajpur and 12 in Malda. The only south Bnegal district to go the polls in this phase is Birbhum with 11 constituencies.
Nearly 1.22 crore (1,21,74,947) voters across 13,645 polling stations would decide the fate of 383 candidates — 33 of them female.
In this phase, Dabgram-Phulbari in Jalpaiguri is the largest assembly electorate wise while Darjeeling is the largest area wise. Balurghat seat in Birbhum is the smallest constituency electorate wise.
Political big shots like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, CPI-M state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee were among those who hit the campaign trail.
Banerjee’s Trinamool, the Left Front-Congress combine and Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party are contesting all the seats while the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is also in fray in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri.
Among the major candidates in the fray in this phase include former Indian football superstar and Trinamool nominee Baichung Bhutia, who is pitted against former state minister and CPI-M heavyweight Asok Bhattacharya in Siliguri.
Eyes will also be on Sujapur in Malda district where relatives of late Congress stalwart A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury are pitted against each other.
Choudhury’s younger brother Abu Nasar Khan Choudhury, contesting the polls as Trinamool nominee, is contesting against his nephew Isha Khan Choudhury, representing the Congress.
Abu Nasar Khan Choudhury had won the 2011 polls as a Congress candidate but subsequently joined the Trinamool.
Other major candidates includes North Development Minister Gautam Deb (Dabgram-Pulbari), Food Processing Minister Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury (English Bazar), and BJP’s actress candidate Locket Chatterjee (Mayureswar).
Of the 383 candiates in fray, 68 candidates have declared criminal cases including serious offences like murder and rape while there are at least 56 nominees who have assets exceeding Rs. 1 crore.