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Lok Sabha elections 2024: 'Khela shuru' in West Bengal with three seats to go for polls in Phase 1

Alipurduar, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri will go to polls on the first phase of the 18th Lok Sabha elections on Friday (April 19). The BJP made significant gains in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, going from two to 18 seats, while TMC won 18 seats, a significant drop of 12 from 2014.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kolkata Published on: April 18, 2024 23:05 IST
Lok Sabha elections 2024, West Bengal
Image Source : PTI (FILE) BJP's Nisith Pramanik is one of the key candidates in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal.

West Bengal Lok Sabha elections 2024: The first phase of the 18th Lok Sabha elections is set to begin on April 19 (Friday) with 102 constituencies from 21 states and Union Territories going to the polls. As such, a fierce 'khela' will officially begin between the ruling Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal with three constituencies to go for polling.

The 42 constituencies of West Bengal will vote in all the seven phases from April 19 to June 1, with the TMC, BJP and a coalition comprising the Left Front and the Indian National Congress as the main competitors. In the first phase, the Alipurduar, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri constituencies will go to polls on Friday. At least 37 candidates are competing in Phase 1, ten of whom are crorepatis.

Most of the contest is focused between the ruling TMC and the opposition BJP, who made significant strides in the Lok Sabha seats of West Bengal in 2019 and are hoping to extend their gains in the state. The issues of the North Bengal identity politics, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the infamous Sandeshkhali incident are likely to dominate the political discourse.

Which seats will go for polls in Phase 1 and who's competing?

Alipurduar: This constituency is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and will witness a three-party contest as BJP's Manoj Tigga, TMC's Prakash Chik Baraik and Revolutionary Socialist Party's (RSP) Mili Oraon in the fight. BJP's John Barla won the seat with a margin of 243,989 seats in 2019, defeating TMC's Dasrath Tirkey.

Cooch Behar: All eyes will be on this constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes, which has been historically a Left bastion till TMC won in 2014 and BJP won in 2019. Cooch Behar is comprised 40 per cent of Rajbanshis, who are among the key communities that will decide the election results. Union Minister of State Nisith Pramanik will take on TMC's Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia, while Congress' Piya Roy Chowdhury and Left Front's Nitish Chandra Roy are also competing. Pramanik defeated TMC's Adhikary Paresh Chandra by over 54,000 votes in 2019.

Jalpaiguri: Another constituency located in north Bengal and reserved for SCs, Jalpaiguri will also face a triangular contest between incumbent BJP MP Jayanta Kumar Roy, TMC's Nirmal Chandra Roy and CPM's Debraj Barman. Jayanta Kumar Roy emerged victorious over TMC's Bijoy Chandra Barman with 184,004 votes.

How do the parties fare?

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the TMC won 22 seats, while the BJP sprung a major surprise, winning 18 seats. The Congress won the remaining two seats. The BJP dramatically increased their seats from only two in 2014 to 18 in 2019. The BJP particularly established a stronghold in the north Bengal, winning all the three seats going for polls on Friday. The Congress won only two seats and the Left drew a blank.

The BJP is likely to extend their gains by winning 22 seats in 2024, while the TMC may have to settle with 19 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, as per the India TV-CNX opinion poll. Meanwhile, one seat may go to the Congress party out of a total of 42 seats in the state. TMC may win only two seats in the north Bengal region, according to the poll.

ALSO READ | Lok Sabha Elections 2024: From Gadkari to Annamalai to Hanuman Beniwal, key candidates in Phase 1 on April 19

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