Polling for the seventh phase of the assembly elections in West Bengal has begun on Monday at 7 am and is set to continue till 06:30 pm amid tight security and a contagious second COVID-19 wave.
Polling will take place for 34 seats including Bhabanipur, the seat vacated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Voting is underway at 12,068 polling stations spread across 9 assembly constituencies-each in Murshidabad and Bardhaman districts, six each in Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda, and four in Kolkata, including Bhabanipur.
More than 86 lakh voters will decide the fate of 284 candidates in this phase. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged the voters of West Bengal to "exercise their franchise and follow all COVID-19 related protocols."
The seventh phase of the West Bengal elections takes place today. Urging people to exercise their franchise and follow all COVID-19 related protocols.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 26, 2021
As the state registered its highest single-day spike at 15,889 COVID-19 cases and 57 fatalities, the Election Commission has put in place measures to ensure that voters follow COVID-appropriate behaviour (social distancing, wearing face masks) during the election process.
Due to the violence in Cooch Behar on April 10, security deployment has been heightened at polling stations. According to an Election Commission official, 796 companies of central forces have been deployed to ensure free and fair voting.
Six rounds of voting in the West Bengal Assembly elections have already taken place, with the last phase scheduled for March 29 (Thursday). Counting of votes will take place on May 2 (Sunday).
Edited by Mehak Agarwal; with PTI inputs