Kolkata | With one lakh security personnel deployed to look after law and order, polling for the crucial third phase of West Bengal Assembly election began today at 7 AM. Polling will be held in 62 seats, including seven constituencies in Kolkata.
Altogether 418 candidates, including 34 female, are in fray in the 62 seats spread over Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan districts and north Kolkata. Over 1.37 crore voters, including 65.8 lakh females, are registered in the electoral rolls at these constituencies.
Voting began at 7 AM in 16,461 polling stations and will go on till 6 PM. Key candidates whose fate will be sealed today include Trinamool ministers Shashi Panja and Sadhan Pande, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, five-time Congress MLA Md Sohrab, CPI-M MLA Anisur Rahman and retired IPS officer Nazrul Islam. The one lakh security personnel include 75,000 central forces.
The Election Commission has identified 3,401 hamlets in the phase as vulnerable where extra security and confidence building measures were taken. Based on complaints received from the electorate, 6,095 voters have been identified as vulnerable after which action has been taken against 4,094 trouble-mongers.
To avoid the scorching sun as the day progresses, many voters were ready to exercise their franchise early in the morning. Several districts are reeling under a heatwave. Even in the city, the weatherman has predicted 39 degrees Celsius temperature on the polling day.
Opposition is relying on Murshidabad district, which has been a Congress stronghold. Besides the Vivekananda flyover collapse in the city, the Narada sting operation and Saradha chit fund scam have put the ruling Trinamool Congress in a tight spot. Polling will be held in three more phases ending on May 5.