Opposition parties approach EC for additional campaign time in West Bengal: 10 things to know

Three opposition parties, including the Congress, on Thursday approached the Election Commission over its order curtailing the time period for campaigning in West Bengal, terming it “violative” of the doctrine of level-playing field and urged the poll body to give at least half a day more for electioneering. In a first in the country, campaigning for nine Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal going to polls in the last phase came to an end at 10 pm on Thursday, 20 hours before the scheduled time, according to Election Commission orders. The Election Commission had invoked Article 324 in view of the violent incidents during campaigning in West Bengal.

Here are 10 developments on the last day of campaigning in Bengal

1. Campaigning ended for nine constituencies of south Bengal – Kolkata North and Kolkata South, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Jaynagar (SC) and Mathurapur (SC) seats. An electorate of 1,49,63,064 in these nine constituencies will decide the fate of 111 candidates on Sunday.

  1. In a first such action in India’s electoral history, the Election Commission had on Wednesday ordered campaigning in the nine West Bengal constituencies to end at 10 pm on Thursday, instead of 6 pm on Friday, in the wake of violence between the BJP and the TMC in the city during Amit Shah’s roadshow.

  2. A total of 710 companies of central forces are being deployed by the EC to cover almost all polling booths of the nine seats to ensure free and fair voting on Sunday, officials in the Election Commission said. Apart from general election observers and expenditure observers, the poll panel has for the first time deployed a special police observer and a special observer. In another first, VVPAT will be used in all polling booths along with the EVMs, EC officials said.

  3. The nine seats are spread across the three districts of Kolkata, South and North 24 Parganas. Eight seats, barring the Jadavpur seat, will see a four-cornered contest between the Trinamool Congress, the BJP, the Congress and the Left Front. Jadavpur will witness a triangular fight as the Congress has not put up its candidate in the seat.

  4. The high-voltage campaign saw poll meetings by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Congress leader Sachin Pilot and West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee. Prime Minister Modi held two poll meetings on the last day at Mathurapur in South 24 Parganas and Dum Dum in North 24 Parganas, while Banerjee held two road shows at Behala and Jadavpur areas in Kolkata and two poll meetings at Mathurapur and Diamond Harbour. Shah’s roadshow in the city on Tuesday saw violence and destruction of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust in a college in north Kolkata named after him.

  5. In the Dum Dum seat, the BJP has fielded Samik Bhattacharya against sitting TMC MP Saugata Ray. Left Front major CPI(M) has nominated Nepaldeb Bhattacharya, while the Congress announced the name of Saurav Saha. In Barasat, TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar is contesting against BJP’s Mrinal Kanti Debnath. The Congress has nominated Subrata Dutta and Left Front Constituent All India Forward Bloc Haripada Biswas.

  6. Basirhat Lok Sabha seat will see TMC’s celebrity candidate Nusrat Jahan Ruhi locking horns with BJP’s Sayantan Basu. The Congress has nominated Quazi Abdur Rahim and and the Left Front constituent CPI, Pallab Sengupta. In Jaynagar(SC) seat TMC’s Pratima Mondal will contest against Dr Ashok Kandary of BJP. The Congress has fielded Tapan Mondal and Left Front constituent RSP Subhas Naskar. Choudhury Mohan Jatua is the TMC candidate from Mathurapur (SC) seat against BJP’s Shyama Prasad Halder. The Congress has nominated Krittibas Sardar and the CPI(M) has fielded Dr Sarat Chandra Haldar for the seat.

  7. In Diamond Harbour, sitting MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is the nephew of TMC supremo and considered the number two in the party, is seeking re-election from the seat. He will contest against BJP’s Nilanjan Roy. The CPI(M) has nominated Fuad Halim and the Congress Soumya Aich Roy for the seat. In the Jadavpur seat, TMC’s celebrity candidate Mimi Chakraborty will contest against Anupam Hazra of the BJP. The CPI(M) has fielded senior leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya. Mala Roy is the TMC candidate from Kolkata South seat against BJP’s Chandra Kumar Bose. The CPI(M) has nominated Nandini Mukherjee and the Congress has fielded Mita Chakraborty.

  8. In Kolkata North, Sudip Bandyopadhyay will contest against Rahul Sinha, the BJP national secretary. The CPI(M) has fielded Kaninika Bose and the Congress, Syed Shahid Imam. The polling personnel have left for the 17,042 booths in the nine seats, the officials said.

10. The opposition parties have requested for an urgent and necessary review of the order prohibiting election campaigning in West Bengal after 10 pm Thursday, claiming it was violative of the doctrine of level-playing field and Article 14 of the Constitution which provides for equality before the law. “We urge that this commission re-considers its decision and penalise the one who propagated the violence and violated its electoral laws in such a blatant manner. Punishing those who are innocent by taking such an arbitrary decision will result in a grotesque precedent being set,” the parties said. The Election Commission’s decision was unknown till the time of filing this copy.

Updated: May 16, 2019 — 11:54 pm