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A High Voltage Election in Bengal on Saturday

A High Voltage Election in Bengal on Saturday

Diptendra Raychaudhuri

The hurricane campaign for which the BJP is known all over India, has hit Bengal this week. Not surprising. The first phase of polls will be held on March 27, the coming Saturday. So now, apart from Prime Minister Narenra Modi, leaders like Amit Shah, J P Nadda and Bengal’s own Dilip Ghosh have started high-voltage campaign at different places. They are addressing rallies or doing road shows, each of them at separate places.

The strategy is a cleverly cut one. Apart from carrying the voters who will go to the booth on 27th, BJP wants to be ahead in occupying the space in electronic media. It is known that apart from Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhisekh, Trinamool Congress has no other face who can maintain a high TRP rate if shown on TV. The BJP is taking advantage of the situation, winning the game by fielding at least 3 leaders a day against TMC’s pisi-bhaipo combination.

Meanwhile, the central forces have been deployed throughout West Bengal ahead of the polls, and surely they will have a tough time next Saturday. The polls will be held in 30 constituencies in parts of 4 districts.(East and West Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura) of West Bengal. A few constituencies are in the Jungle Mahal or its adjacent areas. But, this time, no major attack by the Maoists is being apprehended by the security forces.

However, after Suvendu Adhikary’s exit from TMC, the whole area in general and Purba Medinipur in particular has become hotbed of political clashes. Perhaps that is why a full bench of the Election Commission of India (ECI) accompanied by senior officials is set to be in West Bengal to review poll preparedness. And of course, with the temperature running high—both natural and political—the security forces cannot afford to take it easy..

The exit of Suvendu has definitely hurt the TMC in two Medinipur districts, while in Purulia and Bankura the TMC is already on back foot since the last Lok Sabha elections. Given the situation, this phase will witness a keen contest between the major rivals as TMC will try it hard to regain lost ground while the BJP will give its best to retain the advantage. The third force, the Congress-Left-ISF, is expected to be a fence sitter except for just a few of these constituencies.

While all these—high voltage campaign or security arrangements—have always been part of the game, this time the election in Bengal will be held in an unforeseen situation. A second wave of Covid-19 is threatening the country. Though Bengal has not seen a major spike, no one knows what will happen when. In view of the Covid-19 restrictions, the Election Commission has extended polling time by 30 minutes for the first phase of West Bengal elections, and voters will now be able to exercise their franchise from 7 am to 6.30 pm, though it will be dark by 5.30.

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