Kolkata, May 12 : Polling for the sixth and penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha election to eight Lok Sabha seats of Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur began at 7am under the strict glare of Central Security Forces.
An electorate of 1,33,69,749 will decide the fate of 83 candidates in these eight Parliamentary constituencies. Altogether 770 companies of central armed forces, 30 companies more than the fifth phase, have been deployed to man the eight Lok Sabha seats.
The central armed forces, who have been deputed to the Jangalmahal in Medinipur and Jhargram, have special gadgets like a helmet, bulletproof jacket and armoured vehicles. Earlier, the Election Commission (EC) said cent per cent armed central forces will guard all the polling booths of eight parliamentary segments spreading in five districts keeping in line with the demand of the Opposition parties like BJP, Left and Congress.
The Election Commission (EC) is taking extra careful measures in the remaining two phases of Lok Sabha elections. There are an additional five per cent EVMs at every centre.
According to the Election Commission sources, the news of EVMs, VVPAT snag poured in the last five hours in the last phase election due to sweltering heat.
As a result, voting process was delayed at several places. There have been many complaints about this issue. So, the commission is more careful about the issue this time.
In case of EVMs snag, there are an additional five per cent EVMs at each centre.The EC plans to use satellite phones and drones to ensure security in the Junglemahal area, a Maoist stronghold, going to polls this phase.
The EC sources said steps have also been taken to ensure safety of polling parties, voters, electronic voting machines, candidates, polling agents and other poll-related officials on the day of polling. Additional Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Basu said all required measures were being taken in the Junglemahal region (vast forested stretches in Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura districts where Maoist rebels were once very active).
“All required measures have been taken to ensure successful voting in Junglemahal region. Sufficient Central forces have been deployed,” Mr Basu said. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Indian National Congress (INC) and the Left Front have fielded their candidates in all the eight constituencies.
There was high pitch campaigning for the eight 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-pitch 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 TMC supremo 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 sixth phase Lok Sabha elections are former Union Minister of State for Rural Development in the Manmohan Singh government and sitting TMC MP Sisir Adhikari from Kanthi, TMC actor-turned-MP Dev (Deepak Adhikari) and retired IPS officer and BJP candidate Bharati Ghosh from Ghatal, BJP State president Dilip Ghosh and TMC Rajya Sabha MP Manas Bhuniya from Medinipur, Veteran politician and State Minister Subrata Mukherjee from Bankura and sitting MP and BJP candidate Saumitra Khan from Bishnupur.
Seth won thrice from 1998 to 2009 in Tamluk when he was in the CPI (M) but was expelled from the party in March 2014 for anti-party activities and after changing multiple political parties is now the Congress candidate for this year Lok Sabha elections.
In 2014 Lok Sabha election, Trinamool Congress's Suvendu Adhikari had won the Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency defeated his nearest CPI(M) candidate Shek Ibrahim Ali with a massive margin of 246481 votes.
However, bypolls were necessitated after Suvendu Adhikari won the West Bengal assembly election from Nandigram and became a state minister in 2016. In the by-polls, his brother Dibyendu contested a by-poll and retained Tamluk for the TMC.
The Adhikaris are the son of Sisir Kumar Adhikari, the Trinamool Congress member of Parliament from Kanthi and former Union minister of rural development in the Manmohan Singh Government.On the other hand, in 2009, the BJP candidate had received 1.79 per cent votes in Tamluk. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, this number had increased to 6.40 per cent.
In the Lok Sabha by-polls of 2016, this number increased further, and BJP received 15.06 per cent of the votes. Nandigram is one of the seven Assembly segments that constitute parliamentary constituency no. 30, Tamluk.
The other six are Panskura Purba, Moyna, Nandakumar, Mahisadal, and Haldia.
This time Trinamool Congress fielded sitting MP Dibyendu Adhikari from the seat. Ibrahim Ali is representing Communist Party of India (Marxist), Siddhartha Naskar representing BJP and Lakshman Chandra Seth is contesting on a Congress ticket.