Voting for the seventh and penultimate phase of the ongoing West Bengal assembly elections began on Monday at 7am in polling booths across 34 assembly constituencies of the eastern state. In the seventh phase, 36 constituencies were to go to polls but the voting in two–Jangipur and Samserganj-was rescheduled due to the passing away of two candidates from the respective constituencies.
Among these, six are in Dakshin Dinajpur, six in Malda, nine in Murshidabad, nine in Paschim Bardhaman and four in Kolkata. In Bhowanipore, the home turf of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool has fielded party heavyweight Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay. Ms Banerjee has chosen Nandigram in this election in place of Bhowanipore. The seventh phase polling comes at a time when there has been a massive rise in the country’s daily new cases of the Covid-19. On Sunday, Kajal Sinha, a candidate from chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) succumbed to Covid-19. Last Thursday, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced no roadshow or rallies will be allowed for the assembly elections, also revoking permission already granted for such rallies. The first round of voting was held on March 27, while the subsequent rounds took place on April 1, 6, 10, 17 and 22. The final phase, meanwhile, will take place on April 29. Counting of votes and declaration of results in all 294 assembly constituencies are scheduled for May 2.
Shortly after polling began, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged voters to follow all Covid protocols. “The seventh phase of the West Bengal elections takes place today. Urging people to exercise their franchise and follow all COVID-19 related protocols,” PM Modi tweeted.