Kolkata, May 5 : Polling for the fifth of the seven-phase election to seven South Lok Sabha seats of Bangaon, Barrackpore, Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly and Arambag began at 7 AM this morning under the strict glare of Central Security Forces sans any State Police for the first time.
An electorate of 1,16,91,889 will decide the fate of 83 candidates in these seven parliamentary constituencies. Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey held meetings with the stakeholders for this phase as arrangements have been made to deploy and position about 528 companies of Central Forces as the Election Commission has already announced cent per cent manning of polling booths by armed para-military jawans to ensure peaceful voting.
Mr Dubey while monitoring the arrangements held a series of meetings today with major political parties, senior civil and police officials and poll observers at Barrackpore, one of the seven parliamentary constituencies going to poll tomorrow. The EC is also keeping a vigil on the industrial belt of Barrackpore, where former TMC leader Arjun Singh is contesting the seat against incumbent and TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi. About 528 companies of Central Armed Forces will be deployed in seven seats spreading three districts of South Bengal.
Besides, another 50 companies have already moved to other places where the sixth and penultimate phase polling will take place on May 12 in eight seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Trinamool Congress (AITC), Indian National Congress (INC) and the Left Front have fielded their candidates in all the seven constituencies.
There was high pitch campaigning for the seven seats by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, BJP national president Amit Shah and top leaders of the Congress and Left parties.
The high-pitched campaign was mainly polarised between Ms Banerjee and Mr Modi. Issues ranging from corruption to communalism, NRC to chit fund scams and development to security featured in the speeches of the warring party leaders.
The Trinamool Congress chief called upon the people to defeat the Modi government while the latter urged voters to exercise their franchise in his party's favour. Prominent among those contesting the fifth phase Lok Sabha election are former railway minister and sitting TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi from Barrackpur, sitting MP Sajda Ahmed, wife of late former union Sultan Ahmed, and veteran Bengali actor-cum-BJP candidate Joy Banerjee from Uluberia, actor-cum-BJP leader Locket Chatterjee and sitting TMC MP Dr Ratna De Nag from Hooghly, Lawyer-cum-sitting TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee from Sreerampore, former Indian football captain-cum-sitting TMC MP Prasun Banerjee from Howrah and TMC’s sitting MP Aparupa Poddar from Arambag.
Nearly 660 companies of para-military forces will man the fifth phase polling booths, nearly double the force from the 4th phase. UNI