Over 20 crore people from Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu and Puducherry are voting in a mammoth electoral exercise today. For the latter three, this is the first and only phase of polling. It is Assam’s third and final, while Bengal has five more.
Kerala saw a 13.88 per cent turnout, Bengal saw 14.62 per cent and Assam saw 12.83 per cent till 9am.
Polling for all constituencies began at 7 am and will finish at 6 pm, with the number of booths in each state increased (substantially) to allow for social distancing during the Covid pandemic. The results of all five elections will be declared on 2 May.
31 seats are going to the polls in Bengal in this phase. The Trinamool is contesting all 31, as is the BJP. The Congress, which has allied with the Left, is contesting seven and the CPM 13, with the rest going to smaller allies like the ISF, AIFB and RSP. In 2016, the Trinamool won 29 of these seats and pocketed over 50 per cent of the votes.
The 140 seats of neighbouring Kerala also vote in a single phase today, with the LDF government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan looking to retain power.
In Assam, the final phase sees 40 seats in play, with the ruling BJP targeting a second term.
Puducherry is currently under President’s Rule after the dramatic collapse of the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government. The party is contesting 14 of the 30 Assembly seats, with the DMK getting 13 and smaller allies the rest.