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Crucial assembly polls in four states today, explained
The results from today will seal the fates of a number of crucial political figures and parties.
Crucial assembly polls kicked off in the four states of Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry today. In the three southern states, this will be the sole phase of elections. The results from today will seal the fates of a number of crucial political figures and parties.
In the third of eight phase polls in the state, over 78.5 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 35 seats and 205 candidates, including BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, state minister Ashima Patra and CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly. Voting is underway with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in 16 seats in South 24 Parganas district (part II), seven in Howrah (part I) and eight in Hooghly (part I).
The Election Commission has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in all the constituencies, declaring them as 'sensitive'. Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful voting, with 618 companies of central forces being deployed to guard 10,871 polling stations.
State police forces have also be deputed at strategic locations to aid the central forces.
Kerala is all set to go to polls today with 2.74 crore voters exercising their franchise to decide the fate of 957 candidates including high-profile leaders and independents in 140 assembly constituencies across the state.
An array of ministers and several sitting MLAs from the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-headed United Democratic Front (UDF) are seeking another term in the April 6 polls.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, health minister K.K. Shailaja, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, Power Minister M.M. Mani and Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel are among the prominent personalities trying their electoral luck from the ruling side. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, senior leaders K. Muraleedharan, P.T. Thomas and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan are among those contesting from the UDF fold.
The election is crucial for an array of BJP leaders including former Mizoram Governor Kummam Rajasekharan, 'Metroman' E. Sreedharan, who joined the saffron party recently, state president K. Surendran, senior leader Shobha Surendran, Rajya Sabha members Suresh Gopi and K.J. Alphons and others.
The April 6 poll is equally significant for Kerala Congress (M) chief Jose K. Mani who recently snapped decades-long ties with the UDF and joined hands with the Left front.
The ruling LDF is hoping to retain power for a second consecutive term breaking the state's four-decades-old trend of alternating between the UDF every five year. While the UDF is all confident to form their government when the results are out on May 2, the BJP-led NDA is leaving no stone unturned to garner maximum number of seats to become a decisive force in the state's rule.
To consolidate votes of majority community and keep devotees with them, the BJP even promised in their manifesto a law to contain alleged 'love jihad' and even a state legislation to protect the customs and traditions of the Sabarimala temple. The topics of faith, religion, development and welfare have taken a centre-stage throughout the campaigns.
The Congress-UDF and BJP-NDA have tried their best to make a topic of discussion the Sabarimala women entry issue and the controversial gold and dollar smuggling cases, in which the chief minister's office, Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan and some other ministers were facing allegations.
The LDF, who projected themselves as the sole saviour of minority communities especially in Muslim-dominated Malabar (north Kerala) districts during the campaign, is calculating that their votes would be consolidated en-mass in their favour.
Polling for 40 seats in the final phase of the assembly elections in Assam began at 7am on Tuesday to decide the fate of 337 candidates, including senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his five cabinet colleagues and state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass.
Elections are being held amid tight security as 320 companies of security forces were deployed in the third phase, the highest among all the phases. Altogether 79,19,641 voters are entitled to exercise their franchise. A total of 45,604 polling personnel have been deployed for this phase.
A direct contest between nominees of the BJP-led NDA and Congress-headed Grand Alliance is on the cards in 20 constituencies while there is a triangular fight, including friendly contests, in the remaining seats with the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) being considered as the third force. The newly floated AJP is contesting in 22 seats while there are 126 independents in the fray in the final phase of the election in which the BJP-led coalition is seeking to return to power for the second term in a row.
The fate of 20 sitting MLAs, eight from the Congress, five from the BJP, three each from the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the BPF and one from the AGP, will be decided in the final phase.
Besides Himanta Biswa Sarma, other ministers who are in the fray included Chandra Mohan Patowary, Siddhartha Bhattacharya and Phanibhushan Choudhury.
After fierce electioneering over a span of about four months, with a resurgent DMK eyeing capturing power and a determined AIADMK straining every nerve to retain power for the second time, Tamil Nadu is all set for the assembly polls for 234 seats today.
The most intense in its electoral history and the first polls in the absence of stalwarts, AIADMK's J. Jayalalithaa and DMK's M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, who is seeking a third successive win from Edappadi segment in his home district of Salem, steered his party's hectic campaign.
Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who too embarked on an aggressive campaign, is contesting again from his native Theni district's Bodinayakanur constituency, where he emerged victorious in the 2011 and 2016 polls. The AIADMK leadership that began the campaign in December last, latched on to government's 'achievements' like 7.5 per cent quota for government school students in medical admissions, successful COVID-19 management and poll promises like Rs 1,500 monthly assistance to families.
The DMK's poll plank was corruption charges against the government and 500 plus poll promises, including Rs 4,000 relief to COVID-19 hit rice ration card holders and legislation to earmark 75 per cent of jobs for locals. DMK chief M.K. Stalin, who spearheaded several campaign programmes against the ruling party, including the 'We Reject AIADMK' in December last and 'people's' grama sabhas, vigorously toured the state to take on the ruling AIADMK. He is seeking reelection for the straight third term from Kolathur segment. His son and party youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin is debuting from Chepauk-Triplicance constituency.
For the first time, Makkal Needhi Maiam, founded in 2018 and led by actor-politician Kamal Haasan, is trying its luck. Haasan is trying his luck from Coimbatore South, while BJP's state unit president L Murugan and the saffron party's Kushbhu Sundar are contesting from Dharapuram and Thousand Lights constituencies respectively.
AIADMK's ally, BJP which is contesting in 20 constituencies, has made a serious bid to make a mark in the assembly polls. Currently,the BJP has no MLAs in the assembly.
The Congress, an ally of the DMK, is in the fray in 25 assembly segments.
Puducherry and its outlying regions of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam go to Assembly polls on April 6 in single phase. There are 30 assembly segments including five reserved constituencies. The election is a keen contest between the Congress-led Secular Democratic alliance and the AINRC-led NDA.
The chief contestants are AINRC founder leader N. Rangasamy seeking election from Thattanchavady in Puducherry and the lone seat in Yanam, an enclave of Puducherry in Andhra Pradesh. He has no strong adversary in the hustings in Yanam. The PCC president A.V. Subramanian is seeking election from his home town of Karaikal (north).
The AIADMK convenors A. Anbalagan and Om Sakthi Segar are testing their luck in Uppalam and Orleanpet segments respectively. Anbalagan has been holding the Uppalam constituency consecutively since 2001. Om Sakthi Segar who was elected to the assembly on two occasions in the past from Nellithope has now moved to Orleanth which is a new turf for him.
Narayanasamy, who headed the Congress government here since 2016, has now opted out of the poll battle.
The Congress has re-fielded its woman nominee Vijayaveny in Nettapakkam and similarly the AINRC has re-fielded B. Kobika and Chandrapriyanka in Thirubhuvai (reserved) and Neduncadu (reserved) constituencies respectively. The AINRC is seeking election from 16 seats after sharing the remaining 14 seats with BJP (nine) and AIADMK (four).
Similarly, the Congress is contesting in 14 seats and supporting an Independent in Yanam while its allies the DMK is seeking election from 13 seats.