Assembly elections: First phase of campaigning for Assam, West Bengal ends

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NEW DELHI: Campaigning for the first phase of the high-octane assembly elections in

West Bengal



ended on Thursday.
With the first phase of polling in the high-stakes West Bengal assembly elections beginning on March 27, the state is set to witness an intense triangular contest between Trinamool Congress (


), Bharatiya Janata Party (


) and the Congress-Left alliance.
While in Assam, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a second term with the help of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL). The Congress-led United People's Alliance (UPA) 'Mahajath' and United Regional Front (URF) led by activist Akhil Gogoi's Raijor Dal are formidable opponents.
Battleground West Bengal
In the first phase, 30 assembly constituencies will go for polls in West Bengal. These cover all constituencies from the districts of Purulia and Jhargram and some constituencies from Bankura, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur.
The electoral battle will be initiated from the Jangalmahal region, which constitutes 60 assembly constituencies and was dominated by the Left parties until the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Chief minister

Mamata Banerjee

's former close aide and arguably BJP's most important candidate, Suvendu Adhikari, and his family, yield a significant amount of influence on their home turf in Purba Medinipur, which has a rural population of 88.37 per cent.
Furthermore, the Adhikari clan is also reported to have organisational control over 20 to 30 seats of adjoint districts like Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram and Bankura.
An intense tussle for power between the ruling Mamata Banerjee-led TMC and BJP has been witnessed in the run-up to the

assembly polls

Several former ministers and members of Trinamool, including Suvendu Adhikari, Dinesh Trivedi and Rajib Banerjee, have defected to the BJP ahead of the elections.
Elections to the 294-member state assembly are to be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29.
Battleground Assam
Several bigwigs and national leaders of the BJP have visited Assam over the last few days, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, national party president JP Nadda, and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to campaign for the party.
In his rallies, PM Modi hit out at the Congress' 15-year rule and lauding the Sarbananda Sonowal government for developmental work in the last five years.
Several political heavyweights are in the fray in the first phase. Sonowal is seeking re-election from Majuli, a seat he wrested from Congress' Rajib Lochan Pegu in the 2016 Assembly elections. Pegu, who had won the seat for three straight terms since 2001, has again been fielded by Congress.
Assam assembly speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami is in the poll battle from Jorhat, ministers Ranjit Dutta from Behali, Naba Kumar Doley from Jonai and Sanjoy Kishan from Tinsukia.
The fate of ministers from NDA ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)- Atul Bora from Bokakhat and Keshab Mahanta from Kaliabor- will also be sealed during the first phase of polling on March 27.
Among other high-profile candidates in the first phase include Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia who is contesting from Nazira, AICC Secretary Bhupen Borah from Bihpuria and former ministers Bharat Narah from Naoboicha, Pranatee Phukan from Naharkatiya and Rakibul Hussain from Samaguri.
In 2016, the BJP scripted history and formed the government for the first time in the state ending Congress's 15-year rule. The BJP and its allies - Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People's Front (BPF), won a combined 86 seats in the 126-member Assam Assembly.
Counting of votes will take place on May 2.
(With agency inputs)

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