Bengal set for second phase polling in 30 seats

Nandigram, Mar 31 (PTI): The stage is set for the second phase of assembly poll in West Bengal on Thursday when more than 75 lakh voters will decide the fate of 191 candidates in 30 seats as eyes are set on the high profile Nandigram constituency where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is pitted against her protg turned adversary Suvendu Adhikari.
All 10,620 booths where polling will be held this phase have been declared as sensitive by the Election Commission, which has deployed around 651 companies of central forces to provide security, officials said.
Besides, the state police will also be deployed at strategic locations during the polling which will begin at 7 am, they said.
A total 199 companies of Central Armed Police Force will be deployed in Purba Medinipur, 210 companies in Paschim Medinipur, 170 in South 24 Parganas and 72 in Bankura, the sources said.
TMC and BJP are contesting in all the 30 seats, while CPI(M) is in the fray in 15 and its alliance partners of Sanjukta Morcha the Congress and ISF are competing in 13 and two seats respectively.
Polling will take place amid strict COVID-19 guidelines in nine seats of Paschim Medinipur, eight in Bankura, four seats in South 24 Parganas and nine in Purba Medinipur – the home ground of TMC turncoat and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. Nandigram falls in Purba Medinipur district.
The agrarian constituency which shook the foundations of the mighty Left regime over the anti-land acquisition movement in 2007, has now turned into a battleground of titans with Banerjee suddenly deciding to switch from her Bhowanipur seat to the constituency held by Adhikari, her former lieutenant who has switched loyalty to the BJP.
For Adhikari it is a battle for political survival as a defeat would be a devastating blow and might also put a question mark on his political graph in his new party the BJP. Similarly, a victory would not only establish him as one of the tallest leaders in Bengal but would also push him few miles ahead of others in the Chief Ministerial race in case the BJP is voted to power.
For Banerjee, who is running for the third successive term as chief minister, a victory is a must to lead the government and keep together her party, which is faced with exodus.

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