The election commission on Thursday ended all speculations regarding clubbing the remaining phases of the Bengal assembly elections 2021. The poll body said that there is no such plan of clubbing the remaining four phases of Bengal polls into one. Elections in the state are taking place in 8 phases out of which polling for the first four phases has already taken place. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.
"No such plan of clubbing phases," said the Election Commission of India (ECI) on speculations about the commission clubbing remaining assembly election phases in West Bengal into one.
However, the poll body has called an all-party meet on April 16, a day ahead of the fifth phase of polling on April 17, to discuss Covid situation in the poll-bound state. The commission has asked parties to send not more than one representative for the meeting.
Campaigning for the fifth phase, in which 45 seats will go to polls on April 17, ended on Wednesday.
The campaigning ended at 6.30 pm. The Election Commission has increased the silence period from 48 to 72 hours in view of the Cooch Behar killings in the fourth phase.
A total of 1.13 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes to decide the fate of 342 candidates, including Siliguri Mayor and Left Front leader Ashok Bhattacharya, state minister Bratya Basu and BJP's Samik Bhattacharya.
Polling will be held from 7 am to 6.30 pm at 15,789 polling stations in 16 assembly seats in North 24 Parganas, eight each in Purba Bardhaman and Nadia, seven in Jalpaiguri, five Darjeeling and one in Kalimpong district.
In view of the Cooch Behar killings, in which four people were killed in CISF firing and one man was shot dead by unidentified persons outside a booth in Sitalkuchi, the EC has decided to deploy at least 853 companies of central forces to ensure free and fair voting, an election official said.
The BJP's star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, party chief J P Nadda and actor Mithun Chakraborty had addressed several rallies in the region, attacking the TMC over corruption charges.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee, on the other hand, attacked the Centre over fuel price rise.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also addressed rallies in the state on Saturday. The BJP led in more assembly seats than the TMC in the
region in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
(With PTI inputs)