Phase 6 of polling in West Bengal begins

The sixth phase of assembly elections in Bengal are being held in the shadow of spiralling Covid cases. In a first, Bengal has crossed the 10,000-mark, logging 10,748 fresh cases. 43 assembly seats across four districts are up for polls in this phase.

This is a crucial phase for the ruling Trinamool Congress and the challenger BJP. The Samyukta Morcha of the CPM, Congress and a few smaller parties are contesting. Polling began at 7 am in 17 constituencies of North 24 Parganas district, nine each in Nadia and Uttar Dinajpur and eight in Purba Bardhaman district.

The fate of several heavyweight candidates will be decided in this phase — three ministers, three film star, several TMC turncoat and Mukul Roy, the first Trinamool leader to join the BJP.

The 43 seats polling today had hugely contributed to the jump in the BJP’s vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. From 10 per cent in the 2016 assembly polls, the BJP had cornered 41 per cent votes in 2019. The Trinamool Congress won 32 of 43 seats In 2016. In 2019, it led in 24 segments only, while the BJP, which did not win a single seat in 2016, led in 19 segments.

The Election Commission has turned down the requests of Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien and Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to club the remaining phases of polls.