Polling begins for last phase of WB assembly elections

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Kolkata, May 10: Polling began today (May 10) amidst tight security for the sixth and final phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections, covering 14 seats in the Maoist-affected Jangalmahal area spread over West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts.

During this phase, 26,57,436 voters will elect their representatives from 97 candidates. While West Midnapore district has the highest number of seven seats, Purulia has four and Bankura three.

Prominent candidates in this phase include CPI(M)'s Susanta Ghosh, the controversial minister in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's government contesting from Garbeta, the party's nominee and Law Minister in the outgoing cabinet Rabilal Moitra contesting from Gopiballavpur and jailed PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato, contesting as an Independent from the Jhargram seat.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee were among the star campaigners for their respective parties in this phase.

State Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said a fool- proof security system has been worked out on the basis of inputs from intelligence and other agencies to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections during this phase.

Besides the 41 para-military companies permanently stationed in the three districts to tackle Maoists, 614 additional companies have been deployed for the polls besides a huge number of state forces, according to Election Commission sources.

Gupta said all inter-state and inter-district borders have been sealed to prevent any infiltration and three helicopters would be used for air-surveillance and to co-ordinate with ground forces against any subversive activity.

Force enhancer capabilities like satellite phones and night vision devices would be used for better co-ordination.

He said that arrangements have been made to air-lift victims of violence in the event of an emergency and advanced medical equipment like ''Quick Clot Kits'' have been kept handy to deal with any medical emergency.

PTI

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