West Bengal gears for fourth phase of Assembly polls

Kolkata, April 10 (IANS) 44 assembly constituencies of five districts in West Bengal will go for the fourth phase of the polls on Saturday. Considering the incidents of violence during the third phase of polling, the Election Commission has made an extensive arrangement to avoid any kind of untoward incidents.

373 candidates will contest in the fourth phase of the election.

Out of 44 Assembly constituencies slated for the polls, 11 are in South 24 parganas district, nine in Cooch Behar, five in Alipurduar district, nine in Howrah district and 10 in Hooghly district. Polling is scheduled in six constituencies of Kolkata including Behala East and West, Kasba, Metiabruz, Jadavpur and Tollygunje. Though these constituencies are part of South 24 Parganas but they fall under Kolkata’s administrative jurisdiction.

Out of total 11,594,950 total voters including service voters, 5,882,514 are male while 5,698,218 are female. The total number of polling booths are 15,940 that includes 12,361 main and 3,579 auxiliary booths. The number of 80 plus voters are 2,03,927 while 50,523 are PWD (Persons with Disabilities) voters. The total number of service electors are 13,928, third gender voters are 290 while overseas voters are 34. Altogether 50 women candidates including some celebrities will contest in the fourth phase.

Interestingly women voters will become the deciding factor in the West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district in this phase. Cumulatively the number of female voters in the district’s 11 constituencies are more than their male counterparts. In six of them, Sonarpur Dakshin, Sonarpur Uttar, Jadavpur, Tollygunj, Behala Uttar, Behala Dakshin, women have an edge over their male counterparts.

The total number of female voters in these 11 constituencies are 15,70,392, while the number of the male voters is 15,66,161. The Jadavpur constituency has the highest gender ratio, with 1,54,239 female voters against 1,44,420 males.

To avoid any kind of violence, the Election Commission has made an extensive security arrangement. The ECI has decided to deploy 789 companies of Central forces — the highest force concentration in this election so far.

“Presently, there are around 800 companies of Central forces in the state, but the Commission has assured to send another 200 companies from Assam where elections have recently concluded. This will take the number of Central forces to 1,000 companies, which is the highest deployment in the state in any election so far. This additional 200 companies will be used for the elections in North Bengal as this it will be logistically easier,” said a senior commission official in the state.

According to officials, there will be a deployment of 187 companies of Central forces for the nine constituencies of Cooch Behar followed by South 24 parganas where the deployment will be 184 companies. In addition to that another 174 companies of central forces will be deployed in the 10 constituencies in Hooghly district, 140 companies for the nine constituencies in Howrah district and another 98 companies for Alipurduar district. The Commission has also deployed six companies for Jalipaiguri as it shares border with Alipurduar.

The ECI has deployed 35 general observers, 10 expenditure observers and nine police observers for the fourth phase of polls. There will be webcasting facilities in 50 per cent of the booths.

The Commission has appointed IPS officer Ajeet Singh Yadav, SP CIF of the state police to assist the Commissioner of Howrah Police C. Sudhakar during Saturday’s election considering the sensitivity of the elections in the district.