Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance, making a determined charge
to unseat the Left Front in West Bengal, faces the challenge from
its own dissidents as the stage is all set for the second phase of
assembly elections Saturday.
Over 93 lakh voters in 11,531 polling stations spread over three
districts will Saturday elect their representatives for 50
assembly constituencies from a field of 293 candidates.
After the record 84.11 percent turnout on April 18 in the first
phase of balloting in 54 constituencies of north Bengal, the poll
Juggernaut now moves south, reaching historic Murshidabad, the
capital of the erstwhile Nawabs of Bengal, where the English East
India Company snatched power on the battle grounds of Plassey in
Bordering Murshidabad is Nadia, the birthplace of Vaishnava saint
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, while to the west lies Birbhum district,
home to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's Santiniketan.
Murshidabad has 22 seats, Nadia 17 and Birbhum 11.
Eight rebel Congressmen - four each in Murshidabad and Nadia - are
in the fray as independents after the party high command denied
them tickets and yielded the seats to Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool
In Murshidabad, the dissidents have the backing of district
Congress chief and Lok Sabha member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, while
in Nadia they have their supporter in formidable leader Shankar
Both Chowdhury and Singh are canvassing for the dissidents, who
have already been expelled from the party by the Congress high
command. But the party leadership is yet to take any action
against the two leaders.
In Birbhum, all eyes will be on Nalhati constituency where union
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's son and Congress candidate
Avijit Mukherjee is making his debut in electoral battle and is up
against Forward Bloc nominee Dipak Chatterjee.
Baul (folk) singer Parikkhit Bala is in the race from Sainthia on
a Trinamool ticket.
Other prominenet candidates in the second phase include CPI-M
leader and state minister Anisur Rehman, former high court judge
and Trinamool nominee Nure Alam Chowdhury, and Rukbanur Rahman,
brother of computer graphics teacher Rizwanur Rahman who was
killed a month after he married the daughter of a Kolkata-based
The CPI-M has fielded candidates in 31 seats, while its Left Front
partners Revolutionary Socialist Party, Forward Bloc and Communist
Party of India are contesting in nine, five and one seat
respectively, leaving three other seats to other minor parties.
The Trinamool is in the race in 29 and the Congress in 21
constituencies. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in
all the 50 constituencies.
Around 5,000 security personnel have been deployed in the three
districts to ensure free and fair polls and to prevent any breach
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee, Trinamool Congress
chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, BJP stalwart L.K.
Advani and party chief Nitin Gadkari besides Left Front leaders
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and front chairman Biman
Bose have campaigned in the three districts.
During the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Trinamool Congress, the
Congress and their other alliance partner Socialist Unity Centre
of India-Communist (SUCI-C) fought together against the state's
ruling Left Front and bagged 26 of the 42 seats.
The last four phases of the state's assembly polls will be held
April 27 (75 constituencies), May 3 (63), May 7 (38) and May 10
The votes will be counted May 13.