Polling officials inspect the voting materials before moving towards their respective polling booth from a distribution centre on the eve of 8th phase of State Assembly election in Kolkata on Wednesday. (PTI)
OVER 84 lakh voters in West Bengal will decide the political fate of 283 candidates on Thursday, when 35 Assembly constituencies go to polls in the eighth and final phase, amid a raging second wave of COVID-19. All eyes will be on Trinamool Congress Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal as he is under the strict surveillance of the Election Commission. Mondal has been placed under surveillance till Friday 7 am, as the Chief Electoral Officer in the State has received “several complaints against him”, an EC official said.
The TMC leader was placed under similar surveillance during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2016 Assembly polls. Security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, particularly the death of five people in Cooch Behar in the fourth round of polling on April 10, the official said. The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 641 companies of central forces, including 224 in Birbhum district, in the eighth phase to ensure free and fair voting, he said. Voting will be held at 11,860 polling stations spread over 11 assembly constituencies each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in Kolkata.
The poll panel will also put in place measures to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the voting process, the official said. Campaigning for the eighth and final phase has been a low-key affair, following curbs imposed by the EC in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 cases in the State. The EC has banned roadshows and vehicle rallies in the State noting that the COVID safety norms were being flouted in West Bengal.