West Bengal Elections: Phase 5 Voting Begins Amid Tight Security

30/04/2016 8:32 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Indian polling officials check voting machines prior to leaving for their respective polling booths ahead of fifth phase of the West Bengal state Assembly elections in Kolkata, India, Friday, April 29, 2016. Fifth phase election will be held on April 30. (AP Photo/ Bikas Das)

KOLKATA -- Voting for the crucial fifth phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal began today in which a number of heavyweights, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, are in the fray.

349 candidates, including 43 women, are trying their luck in today's election across three districts — Kolkata South, South 24 Parganas and Hooghly.

About 1.2 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes at over 14,500 polling booths from 7 AM to 6 PM.

The centre of attraction in this phase is Bhawanipur constituency where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is pitted against former union minister Deepa Dasmunshi of the Congress.

The other prominent candidate in Bhawanipur is Chandra Kumar Bose, grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, contesting on a BJP ticket.

Along with the Saradha chitfund scam and 'Syndicate raj' (local real estate cartel for supply of building material), the Narada sting tapes has also been a major poll issue in the state.

Apart from deploying a strong contingent of 90,000 personnel of central and state police forces, the poll panel has also ordered imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPc in all constituencies on polling day.

Sizzling heatwave is a worry for voters as Kolkata had yesterday recorded 40.4 degrees temperature, five degrees above normal.

Political heavyweights and key ministers like Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Manish Gupta, Partha Chatterjee, Javed Ahmed Khan and city mayor Sovan Chatterjee will try their luck in this phase.

Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim and Sovan Chatterjee were purportedly seen in the Narada sting video tapes.

Star candidates in this phase include Bengali singer Indranil Sen and Indian midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi, who has been the skipper of Indian Super League side Mumbai City FC.

CPI(M) leaders Kanti Ganguly, Rabin Deb and Sujan Chakraborty are also trying their luck this phase of polling.

Abdur Razzak Mollah, who courted controversy for allegedly using derogatory language against actor-turned-BJP leader Roopa Ganguly, is also trying his luck on a Trinamool ticket from Bhangar seat in South 24 Parganas district.

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