Bengal assembly elections commences on March 27 with ruling party's Trinamool Congress (TMC)'s main slogan - "Bengal only wants its own daughter"(BanglaNijerMeyekeiChay).
Bengal elections will be held over 33 days in eight phases from March 27 to April 29, the Election Commission has announced. The results will be declared on May 2. The eight days of voting are March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29.
State's ruling party reacted saying, Bihar has 240 seats but it had elections in three phases. Tamil Nadu has 234 seats, it will have election in one day. Why eight phases in Bengal? The question is likely to reverberate throughout the election. In 2016 assembly elections, the BJP - which won 3 of seats with 10.16 percent vote share. TMC got 211 seats and 44.91 percent vote share. In 2011, in alliance with SUCI and Indian National Congress, TMC had defeated Left Front which has been ruling the state for 34 years. TMC had won 184 seats, SUCI won one seat and Congress got 42 seats. In 2016, TMC won 211 seats without any alliance.
Ahead of the assembly elections, Left Front-Congress alliance has finalised seat sharing deal for 193 seats out of 294 seats. 148 seats are needed for majority. Out of the total seats, Left Front will contest 101 seats and Congress will contest 92 seats. Out of these seats, they had won 77 seats in the 2016 elections. The arrangements for the remaining seats are yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, CPI (ML) has announced that it will contest in 12 seats independently and not as alliance partners with the Left Front-Congress.
CPI (ML) has decided to contest in Phansidewa (Darjeeling), Maynaguri (Jalpaiguri), Mathabari (Malda), Khargram (Murshidabad), Manteswar (Burdwan), Jamalpur (Burdwan), Onda (Bankura), Ranibandh (Bankura), Krishnanagar South (Nadia), Nakashipara (Nadia), Dhanekhali (Hooghly) and in UttarPara (Hooghly).
CPI (ML) has announced that it will support candidates of other parties including Left Front, Congress and TMC.
It is being said that Hindi speaking voters who constitute 12 percent of total voters are likely to play a significant role in some constituencies. The role of women voters too will be crucial.
Significantly, Bengal assembly is the only state assembly in the country which had unanimously passed a resolution against controversial biometric surveillance initiative called Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Number for residents of India with the support of TMC and Left parties. This project was launched by Congress led central government and is enthusiastically pursued by BJP led central government under the influence of the donors of ruling parties. The latter bulldozed it as Money Bill amidst bitter protest by Rajya Sabha. It has been found constitutionally questionable by a 5-Judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court and has been referred to a 7-Judge Bench.
Alignments and alliances for the election are almost ready but rife with scope for surprising partial re-alignments. It is evident that Bengal election is once again going to be about Ma Mati Manush (Mother, Motherland and People).
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