West Bengal goes to elections in the months of April and May this year to select representatives from its 294 constituencies in the state legislative assembly. Led by party matriarch Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress achieved a historic victory in the 2011 assembly elections. It managed to topple a 34-year old Left Front regime which had been the longest-serving democratically elected Communist government in the world. The Mamata Banerjee government will complete its tenure in May 2016.
It is no secret that Banerjee has had a difficult tenure as chief minister of West Bengal. The opposition had spared no opportunity to attack her government over the Saradha scam and increasing crime and violence in the state. As Bengal goes to elections again this year, Banerjee faces the tough challenge of anti-incumbency.
Parties & Alliances
The Trinamool Congress has decided against forging any electoral tie-up with other parties. Meanwhile, the CPI(M)-led Left Front has arrived at an ‘understanding’ with the Congress though no alliance has been formalised officially yet.
Candidates in the Fray
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has announced her party’s list of candidates for the 2016 Assembly polls. The number of women candidates has gone up from 31 to 45 and the number of minority candidates has also gone up from 37 to 57. Banerjee’s decision to nominate jailed minister Madan Mitra and some other MLAs despite opposition has raised eyebrows.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front has released its first and second list of candidates. The first list of 116 candidates features 68 new faces, 16 women and 25 candidates from minority communities. The second list names 84 candidates and includes 52 new faces.
The Congress party has declared the names of its candidates for 43 seats. It has also indicated that it would contest from about 90 of the total 294 constituencies as part of its understanding with the CPI(M)-led alliance Left Front.
The BJP has released its first and second list of candidates. Its chief ministerial candidate, grand-nephew of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Chandra Kumar Bose, is set to contest from Bhowanipore. The second list of candidates has 194 names. It includes former chief of BJP West Bengal unit Rahul Sinha and actor Rupa Ganguly. Union Minister and CEC secretary J.P. Nadda said that young candidates have been given preference and as many as 26 women figure among the candidates announced so far.
Trinamool Congress and the Left Front Release Their Manifestos
The Trinamool Congress released its manifesto in English, Bengali, Hindi as well as the tribal Alchiki languages. While releasing the party manifesto, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee highlighted her agenda of development to usher a ‘new Bengal’. Besides law and order, the manifesto focuses on housing, investments, agriculture and education.
The Left Front’s manifesto runs to 16 pages and promises to restore democracy and freedom of expression in Bengal. Holding the TMC responsible for letting the BJP make inroads in Bengal, the manifesto says that the TMC has to be defeated in order to weaken “communal forces like BJP”.
According to an opinion poll conducted by C-voter in collaboration with India TV, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is likely to retain power in the state. The TMC is projected to win 156 out of the 294 assembly seats. The CPI(M)-led Left Front is likely to emerge the runner-up with 114 seats. The Congress, which is projected to be the second runner-up, may get a slight increase in the vote share.
Left Front: 114
Others (including BJP): 11
West Bengal assembly elections will be held in six phases. The first phase will be held on 4 and 11 April. The second, third, fourth and fifth phase will be held on 17, 21, 25 and 30 April respectively. The last phase of the elections will be conducted on 5 May.
First phase of West Bengal elections: 18 constituencies will go to polls on 4 April
Total 18 constituencies of the 294-seat Legislative Assembly in West Bengal will go to polls on 4 April. Total 40,09,171 electors will vote across 4,945 polling stations. The CPI(M)-Congress alliance will contest from 18 seats during the first phase of six-phase elections with the CPI(M) contesting from 13 and the Congress contesting from 5 seats. Both the BJP and the TMC will contest from 18 seats alone. The 18 constituencies are spread across three districts – Bankura(3), Purulia (9) and West Midnapore (6).
Second phase of West Bengal elections: Close to 80% voting recorded amid sporadic violence
79.51 per cent polling was reported in round two of the first phase of Assembly Elections in West Bengal. With the TMC (Trinamool Congress) leader Mamata Banerjee seeking a second term in office, around 75 per cent voters turned out to cast their ballots in 31 assembly constituencies. With 70 lakh voters choosing among 163 candidates in 31 seats of West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan districts, 76 per cent voting was recorded in West Midnapore, 70.8 per cent in Bankura and 67.96 per cent in Bardhaman.
|All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)||184|
|Indian National Congress (INC)||42|
|Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM)||40|
|All India Forward Bloc (AIFB)||11|
|Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP)||7|
|Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GOJAM)||3|
|Communist Party of India (CPI)||2|
|Samajwadi Party (SP)||1|
|Democratic Socialist Party (Prabodh Chandra) (DSP)(P)||1|
|Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) (SUCI)||1|
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