Kolkata, May 7(UNI) The curtain is set to ring down on the marathon 25-day Bengal Assembly elections as six northern districts go to the fifth and final phase of polls tomorrow amid heavy security.
A total of 8,16,4210 voters, including 389,7456 women, will exercise their franchise in 49 constituencies across Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North and South Dinajpur and Malda districts to decide the fates of 306 candidates, including seven Ministers.
Prominent among the aspirants are Municipal Affairs Minister Ashok Bhattacharya, Forest Minister Jogesh Burman, Relief Minister Hafiz Alam Sairani, Jail Affairs Minister Biswanth Choudhury, Civil Defence Minister Srikumar Mukherjee, Food Processing Minister Sailen Sarkar and Minister of State for PWD Dasarath Tirkey--all seeking reelection as Left Front nominees.
Former Minister Narayan Biswas, who was made to surrender by his party, CPI(M), in connection with a murder case, Ms.Ruby Noor, sister of departed Congress leader A B A Ghani Khan Chowdhury, Union Minister Priyaranajan Dasmunshi's wife Deepa Dasmunshi and state Agriculture Minister Kamal Guha's son Udayan Guha are the other contestants drawing attention.
The first four phases of polling were held on April 14, 22, 27 and May three covering altogether 244 out of a total 294 constituencies in the state. Polling in Bhatpara constituency of North Twentyfour Parganas district, which was countermanded following the death of a candidate, will however, be held on May 16.
Lying between Bangladesh on the east and Bihar on the West the region that stretches from the Darjeeling hills down to the Gangetic plains of Malda, has strategic importance also having border with Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan in the North.
Chief Electoral Officer(CEO) Debasish Sen said more than 50,000 central para military force jawans had been deployed across the six districts to take charge of altogether 9089 polling booths and guard the vital installations.
Vigil had been mounted in the region's border with the neighbouring countries and states to prevent movement of anti-socials and smuggling of arms, he said.
As in the previous phases, digital cameras would be used inside polling booths to take snaps of the voters without having photo identity cards and also of any abnormal happening.
The dissident faction of Greater Cooch Behar People's Association has called for boycotting the polls to press for the demand for a separate state. The situation in Cooch Behar district turned volatile yesterday when police lathicharged an unruly mob at Dinhata in Cooch Behar district. The incident took place few days after GCPA President Bansi Badan Burman withdrew his fast-unto-death and the vote boycott call.