New Delhi: More than 1.54 crore voters in the states of West Bengal and Assam will exercise their right to vote in the first phase of polling on Saturday to decide the fate of several key candidates. Voting will begin at 7 am and conclude at 6 pm, with the timing extended by an hour to ensure COVID-19 protocols are followed.
Central forces will assist the state police in maintaining law and order during polling, a senior police officer told PTI.
Polling in the 30 Assembly segments in West Bengal will be a contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The BJP feels it has the upper hand in the area as it had managed to win most of the Parliamentary seats in the region in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Voting on March 27 will be held amid tight security with the Election Commission deploying around 684 companies of central forces that would guard 10,288 polling booths housed in 7,061 premises. Alos, the state police will also be deployed at strategic locations.
In the first phase, polling will take place amid strict COVID-19 guidelines in all nine seats in Purulia, four in Bankura, four in Jhargram and six in Paschim Medinipur, besides the seven seats in high-stakes Purba Medinipur – the home ground of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari.
Polling in the remaining seven phases will take place on April 1 (30 seats), April 6 (31 seats), April 10 (44 seats), April 17 (45 seats), April 22 (43 seats), April 26 (36 seat) and April 29 (35 seats). Results will be declared on May 2.
While, in Assam, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Speaker Hitendranath Goswami, and Assam state Congress chief Ripun Borah among others from the ruling BJP and Asom Gana Parishad, will be in the fray for 47 constituency seats.
Altogether 264 candidates, including 23 women, are in the fray. And their fate will be decided by 81,09,815 voters, including 40,77,210 men and 40,32,481 women.
It will mostly be a three-way contest between the ruling BJP-AGP alliance, the Congress-led opposition grand alliance and the newly formed Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP).
The state will have three-phase Assembly elections on March 27, April 1 and 6. The results will be declared on May 2.