KOLKATA: Taking into account that elections in West Bengal have been historically marred by violence, a total of 732 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed in the state for the first phase of elections, confirmed Vivek Dubey, Special Police Observer.
Thirty seats go to the polls in the first phase and include all constituencies in Purulia and Jhargram and some seats from Bankura, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur districts.
Both Trinamool Congress and BJP have often accused each other of killing their party cadres. The BJP has accused the Trinamool Congress government of the murder of over 130 party workers.
Due to the possibility of violence, elections are being held in eight-phases for 294-member Assembly.
In the first phase, Kathi Uttar-Vaja Chawli, Pataspur, Khejuri, Saltora, Raipur, Lalgarh, Jhargram, Salboni, Garhbeta, Balarampur and Kashipur are the sensitive areas.
The state had reportedly witnessed nearly 700 cases of violence during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain had on Tuesday reviewed poll preparedness ahead of the first phase.
The first phase of polling will decide the electoral fate of 191 candidates including 21 women. Some prominent names in the first phase of polling include Srikanto Mahato, Rajib Lochan Saren and Uttam Barik of TMC and Rabindranath Maity, Chandana Bauri and Rajib Kundu from BJP.
Congress has fielded five candidates for the first phase – Nepal Mahato from Baghmundi, Shiu Maiti from Bhagabanpur, Uttam Banerjee from Balarampur, Manas Kumar Karmahapatra from Egra and Partha Pratim Banerjee from Purulia.
TMC had won 27 out of these 30 seats in the 2016 elections and BJP was not a major player in the last polls. However, the party has gained in strength in the past five years and has emerged as the main challenger to the ruling party which has won two successive assembly polls.
The BJP won 18 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections against 22 won by the TMC. Congress had won two seats going to the polls in the first phase and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) had won one seat.
Elections to the 294-member state assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.