Bengal votes today in four districts

Bengal votes today in four districts

The silence of the loudspeakers, after weeks of campaign by various parties reaching a crescendo, could remind one of the proverbial lull before the storm.

The only signs now are the fluttering posters and banners advertising the merits of candidates, along with the thumping boots of the central paramilitary forces as West Bengal get set for its first of the five-phase Lok Sabha polling in the state.

With polling to be held on April 17 across the four districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar, involving more than 61 lakh voters through more than 7,400 polling booths, the natural calm and cool of north Bengal is somewhat missing.

The four district administrations began deployment of the central paramilitary forces for four Lok Sabha seats on April 15, and it continued well into April 16, with all poll concerned officials gearing up for free and fair elections.

With the four constituencies surrounded by three international borders of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal in north Bengal, the Election Commission has earmarked around 120 companies of Central forces to be deployed at Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar constituencies.

While 50 companies are being deployed for Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar will have 30 companies and the rest will go to the much talked-about Darjeeling constituency.

The hill constituency also boasts of the highest polling booth, Rammam at 11,000-plus feet, a new induction.

While 47 candidates, representing different poll emblems, will be fighting for a win, most of the constituencies will witness four-cornered contest with the ruling Trinamool Congress, along with opposition parties, Congress, BJP and the Left Front.
All eyes, however, will be on Darjeeling, where the Trinamool has fielded ace footballer Bhaichung Bhutia against S S Ahluwalia of the BJP.

While Bhutia’s win would mean yet another victory for party chairperson Mamata Banerjee, Ahluwalia victory could help Gorkhas realise a long-standing dream of a separate Gorkhaland.

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