27 Mar 2021: Voting underway for 30 seats in Bengal, 47 in Assam
Phase one of the Assembly polls kicked off in Assam and West Bengal today, honoring the coronavirus-linked precautions.
In Bengal, the polling is underway for 30 Assembly seats; the state will see a record eight-phase election this time.
Separately, voters in 47 seats of Assam would choose their preferred candidate today. Assam will vote in three phases.
Here are more details.
Context: CM since 2011, Banerjee is facing stiff competition from BJP
In Bengal, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting tooth and nail to unseat Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC), which is seeking a third consecutive term.
To recall, in recent weeks, TMC lost several of its leaders to BJP, the most prominent being Banerjee's once trusted lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari.
BJP is hoping Adhikari's addition will help it perform well in 30 seats.
Looking back: In general polls, BJP had performed well in 20 segments
Two years ago, during the Lok Sabha elections, BJP had bested TMC in 20 of the 30 Assembly segments which are voting today. It had a vote share of more than 46%.
In 2016, TMC swept these seats, winning 26 out of 30.
Today, over 73 lakh voters, spread across five districts (including entire Purulia and Jhargram) will get inked at nearly 10,200 booths.
Fact: BJP and TMC fielded equal number of candidates
BJP has fielded 29 candidates and gave one seat to the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU). TMC will contest on 29 seats and is supporting an independent candidate in the remaining one. Congress is fighting on five seats, giving the remaining to its allies CPI(M) and CPI.
Appeal: Banerjee, PM Modi, HM Shah urged voters to get inked
Taking to Twitter today, Banerjee urged the people of Bengal to exercise their democratic rights. "I call upon the people of Bengal to exercise their democratic right by coming out and voting in large numbers, (sic)" she wrote.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also had the same message for voters of the Eastern state.
Home Minister Amit Shah requested people to vote to "restore Bengal's glory."
Fact: Shah wants people to vote fearlessly
Assam: Meanwhile, constituency of CM Sonowal is voting today
In neighboring Assam, BJP is eyeing another term. The fate of incumbent CM Sarbananda Sonowal will be decided today, as his constituency Majuli (reserved seat) votes today.
Sonowal had won in 2016 by 49,602 votes and is now up against Congress MLA and former minister Rajib Lochan Pegu.
Other notable candidates in the fray today are Speaker Hitendranath Goswami and Congress Chief Ripun Borah.
Seats: The results will be declared in May
One of the key Assam seats voting today is Titabor. This seat was held by late Congress veteran Tarun Gogoi for four straight terms. Bhaskar Jyoti Barua from Congress and BJP's Hemanta Kalita are locking horns for this seat.
The results of Bengal and Assam polls, along with that of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry will be declared on May 2.