Phase 7, the last of the Lok Sabha Election 2019 phases, is underway currently. Fifty-nine constituencies have gone to the polls today across eight states. Out of those constituencies are nine seats from West Bengal. The nine constituencies in West Bengal that are currently polling are Dumdum, Barasat, Basirhat, Joynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin and Kolkata Uttar.
There are 111 candidates in the fray for these nine seats. Out of these 111 candidates, 40 have declared their educational qualification to be between 5th and 12th standard, while 70 candidates have declared that they are either graduates or hold degrees beyond that.
West Bengal is one of the few states to have conducted its elections in seven phases. Along with the eastern state, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is also conducting polls in all the phases of the Lok Sabha Elections.
Lok Sabha Election 2019: Major parties and candidates
While Congress and BJP have their presence in West Bengal, the primary party in the state is Mamata Banerjee-helmed Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Some of the candidates in the fray are the TMC supremo's nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee. Congress' Mita Chakraborty from Kolkata Dakshin, CPI (M)'s Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya from Jadavpur, Congress' Syed Shahid from Kolkata Uttar, TMC's Mimi Chakraborty from Jadavpur are some of the candidates in the fray.
Mita Chakraborty is the state's richest candidate for Phase 7 with assets worth Rs 44 crore. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya is a distant second with Rs 12 crore worth of assets. Bhattacharya has shown over Rs 1 crore as income in the financial year 2017-18, while Chakraborty has shown over Rs 1 crore income for the same.
According to an ADR report, average asset per candidate from the nine constituencies is Rs 1.35 crore, based on data from their self-sworn affidavits.
Lok Sabha Election 2019: West Bengal election news
In a first-of-its-kind decision, the Election Commission curtailed campaigning in the eastern state by a day stating that the state government had failed to provide a fair playing field to all the parties. In the six-page order, the commission said that "special measures are urgently needed to arrest the prevailing situation in these nine parliamentary constituencies", following clashes between BJP and TMC workers during Amit Shah's rally. A statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised. Shah said that Vidyasagar's statue was broken by TMC workers and the BJP was blamed for it.
Following its decision, the commission asked all campaigning to end by 10 pm on Thursday, instead of the scheduled wrap up at 6 pm on Friday.
The Opposition rallied behind Mamata Banerjee's TMC and criticised the EC. "Election Commission has banned campaigning in West Bengal, but from 10 pm today just because the PM has two rallies during the day. When they had to put a ban why not from morning? This is unfair and the EC is acting under pressure," said Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati. "It is clear that PM Modi, Amit Shah, and their leaders are targeting Mamata Banerjee. "This is planned targeting. This is a very dangerous and unjust trend and one which doesn't suit the PM of the country," she added.
Along with Mayawati, N Chandrababu Naidu, Akhilesh Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, Asaduddin Owaisi and Arvind Kejriwal voiced their support for the Bengal CM. Additionally, the Congress has also been criticising the EC.