Kolkata, Apr 20 (UNI) The hurly-burly of the campaign for the second of the five-phase Assembly elections to 66 seats in four districts of West Bengal ended today.
The state goes for its second of the multi-phase Assembly elections on April 22 with polling being held in Nadia, Howrah, Hooghly and East Midnapore districts.
Prominent among those in the Left Front, whose fate would be decided in this phase, were Fire Brigade Minister Pratim Chattopadhaya (Marxwadi Forward Bloc) from Tarakeshwar, Food Minister Naren Dey (Forward Bloc) from Chinsurah, Fisheries Minister (West Bengal Socialist Party) Kiranmoy Nanda from Mugberia and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prabodh Chandra Sinha (Democratic Socialist Party) from Egra and Minister of State for Health Pratyush Mukherjee (CPI-M) from Amta.
Among the Opposition heavyweights, Congress Chief Whip in the outgoing Assembly Asit Mitra from Kalyanpur, veteran Congres leader Abdul Mannan from Chapdani and Trinamool Congress stalwart Ambika Banerjee from Howrah Central would fight it out for their reentry into the House.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in his whirlwind electioneering had asked the Congress to continue with its slumber and reiterated that the victory of the Trinamool Congress in the state would actually mark the victory of the ''communal'' BJP.
Coming down heavily on the Congress, he said the party had lost its '' self-respect''. '' We were hardpressed to extend support to the UPA government to foil the BJP's attempt to capture power at the Centre, '' he asserted.
'' We have countered the KLO activists in North Bengal. We would also be able to counter the Moists in South Bengal. They are cowards and they do not have the guts to face us. We cannot let peace be shattered,'' he said.
Dwelling on the tremendous progress in the field of agriculture and education, he said the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congrese was trying to stall development.
However, addressing a series of meetings in the three districts, Ms Banerjee and BJP in-charge for the state Arun Jaitly alleged that the state had lost work culture and industry had come to the downhill under the Left rule. Alleging CPI(M) atrocities and misrule, she urged the people to remove the government ruling the state for 29 years.
Congress leader and Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh along with Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Pradha and former Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachhan also fanned out to different parts to woo the electorate.
Altogether 348 candidates, including 28 women, representing 66 constituencies, will try their luck in the second phase.
More than 11.3 million electorate, including over 5.3 million women, will cast votes in the four districts.
Polling will take place in 12,299 polling stations - 11,160 regular and 1139 auxilliary - across the four districts, for which 14,938 EVMs would be used.
While East Midnapore will have polls for 16 constituencies, including Egra and Mugberia, Nadia goes to poll for 15 constituencies, including Krishnagar East and Krishnagar West, Howrah for 16, including Amta, Howrah Central and Kalyanpur, and Hooghly for 19, including Tarakeshwar, Chinsurah and Chapdani.
Udaynarayanpur in Howrah district has the highest number of candidates of 11, while Nabadwip in Nadia, Panchla in Howrah, Jangipur, Singur, Dhaniakhali, Trakeshwar, Khanakul and Arambagh in Hooghly district and Goghat, Ramnagar, Mugberia and Patspur in East Midnapore district have the lowest number of candidates of three.
There was, however, no straight contest in this phase.
In the first phase, which went to polls on April 17, an estimated 70 per cent electorate exercised their rights to franchise in three Maoist-dominated districts of South Bengal.
UNI KDG-TJP SJC DB1758