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The fourth phase of the West Bengal Assembly Election 2021 will be held on Saturday, April 10, and the stage is set in 44 constituencies across five districts where polling will be held. The polling process for phases 1, 2, and 3 of the state elections took place on March 27, April 1, and April 6, respectively. The parties in the fray, led by their top leaders, have tried to pull each other down during their election campaigns over the past few days, as the Congress and the Left Front, joined by Abbas Siddiqui's Indian Secular Front (ISF), hope to take advantage of the squabble between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to re-establish their reign in several regions, particularly in north Bengal.
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Here's a primer on Phase 4 of the West Bengal assembly elections on Saturday:
44 assembly constituencies in 5 districts
In Phase 4 of the West Bengal assembly elections, 44 seats across five districts -- Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly -- go into polls. These are further divided as follows:
9 seats in Cooch Behar -- Mekliganj, Mathabhanga, Cooch Behar Uttar, Cooch Behar Dakshin, Sitalkuchi, Sitai, Dinhata, Natabari, and Tufanganj.
5 seats in Alipurduar -- Kumargram, Kalchini, Alipurduars, Falakata, and Madarihat.
11 seats in South 24 Parganas -- Sonarpur Dakshin, Bhangar, Kasba, Jadavpur, Sonarpur Uttar, Tollygunge, Behala Purba, Behala Paschim, Maheshtala, Budge Budge, and Metiaburuz.
9 seats in Howrah -- Bally, Howrah Uttar, Howrah Madhya, Shibpur, Howrah Dakshin, Sankrail, Panchla, Uluberia Purba, and Domjur.
10 seats in Hooghly -- Uttarpara, Sreerampur, Champdani, Singur, Chandannagar, Chunchura, Balagarh, Pandua, Saptagram, and Chanditala.
In Phase 4 of the Bengal polls, the TMC and the BJP are contesting all the 44 assembly seats. From the Sanyukta Morcha, the CPI-M is contesting 22 seats -- Mathabhanga, Sitalkuchi, Natabari, Falakata, Kasba, Jadavpur, Sonarpur Uttar, Tollyganj, Behala Purba, Behala Paschim, Maheshtala, Bally, Howrah Uttar, Howrah Dakshin, Sankrail, Domjur, Uttarpara, Singur, Chandannagar, Balagarh, Pandua, and Chanditala. The Communist Party of India (CPI) is contesting Sonarpur Dakshin.
Congress is contesting on nine seats -- Sitai, Tufanganj, Kalchini, Alipurduars, Budge Budge, Howrah Madhya, Sreerampur, Champdani, Saptagram. Siddiqui's ISF is contesting three seats -- Bhangar, Panchla, and Uluberia Purba. The Forward Bloc (FB) is contesting on six seats of Mekliganj, Coochbehar Uttar, Coochbehar Dakshin, Dinhata, Shibpur, and Chunchura. The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) is contesting two seats -- Kumargram and Madarihat. The Sanyukta Morcha has not fielded any candidates in the one remaining seat of Metiaburuz.
Among the 44 assembly constituencies going for polls in the fourth phase of the West Bengal assembly elections on Saturday, the districts of Cooch Behar and Alipurduar in North Bengal could be game-changers, with the BJP striving hard to hold its fort it gained during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections upending the Left Front's hold in the region. The TMC seeking to recover its lost ground amid changing political equations. The stage is also set in South 24 Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly, traditional TMC bastions.
A few of the notable constituencies this time are as follows:
1. Constituency: Singur (Hooghly)
Candidates: Rabindranath Bhattacharya (BJP), Becharam Manna (TMC), Srijan Bhattacharya
Singur, once the hotbed of the 2006 anti-land acquisition movement in West Bengal, still has a few crucial questions to answer. Even after getting back their land following Tata Motors' exit, Singur farmers stand clueless as land is turning barren. They are looking forward to getting a solution between industry and agriculture. The BJP has fielded a veteran leader of the land and TMC turncoat, the 88-year-old Rabindranath Bhattacharya, locally known as 'Mastermoshai' (Grandmaster). He will be taking on TMC's Becharam Manna, an old associate of his. Bhattacharya, the sitting MLA from Singur, was earlier with the TMC but joined the BJP after the ruling party denied him a ticket this time. Against the two heavyweights, CPI(M) has fielded the 28-year-old Srijan Bhattacharya, who paved his way through student politics, as the Left Front's candidate from Singur.
2. Constituency: Behala Purba (South 24 Parganas)
Candidates: Ratna Chatterjee (TMC), Payel Sarkar (BJP), Samita Har Chowdhury (CPI-M)
The constituency of Behala Purba has been making the headlines recently, ever since the TMC fielded Ratna Chatterjee, the estranged wife of sitting MLA and former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee. Chatterjee's recent political trajectory saw a tumultuous curve, with him switching camps from the TMC to the BJP, before leaving the BJP as well after being denied the ticket from the Behala Purba constituency. According to BJP, the party did not want to create controversy by fielding Sovan against his wife and had offered him the ticket from Behala Paschim. Sovan Chatterjee was also unhappy as the BJP did not give a ticket to his friend Baisakhi Banerjee. BJP has fielded actor Payel Sarkar from Behala Purba. Against the two leaders is CPI-M candidate Samita Har Chowdhury.
3. Constituency: Tollygunge (South 24 Parganas)
Candidate: Babul Supriyo (BJP), Aroop Biswas (TMC), Debdut Ghosh (CPI-M)
The high profile Tollygunge seat, considered a hub of the Bengali film industry, will expectedly be seeing a high-profile clash this time around. The BJP has fielded two-time MP and Union minister Babul Supriyo, also a renowned singer, to wrest the seat from the three-time TMC MLA Aroop Biswas, who has a long association with the film industry. With the TMC and the BJP locking horns against each other, the film industry in Tollygunge (known colloquially as 'Tollywood') has now been polarised along political lines, and the cine industry's development is the primary poll plank for both the parties. The CPI(M), which was the runner up in the 2016 polls, has fielded a fresh face - actor Debdut Ghosh.
Past polling trends
Ahead of Phase 4 of the West Bengal Assembly Election 2021, here are the results of the past polls in these 44 assembly seats.
Of the 44 seats going to polls on Tuesday, the TMC won 39 in the 2016 assembly elections -- eight seats in Cooch Behar, four seats in Alipurduar, 10 in South 24 Parganas, nine seats in Howrah and eight seats in Hooghly. The Left Front and Congress alliance secured the remaining fours seats -- one in Cooch Behar, one in South 24 Parganas and two in Hooghly). The BJP won the Alipurduar district.
In the 2011 state assembly elections, TMC won 34 of these seats -- four seats in Cooch Behar, two seats in Alipurduar, 10 seats in South 24 Parganas, nine seats in Howrah, and nine seats in Hooghly). The Left Front and Congress alliance won the remaining nine seats -- five in Cooch Behar, two in Alipurduar, one in South 24 Parganas and one in Hooghly. The other remaining seat was won by an Independent candidate.