Ahead of the crucial Kolkata Municipal Corporation election this year and Assembly polls next year, the by-election for the Bongaon (SC) Lok Sabha seat and Krishnaganj (SC) Assembly seat in West Bengal on Friday will be a litmus test for the Mamata Banerjee government.
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements to ensure by-elections are conducted in a free, fair and peaceful manner.
The by-elections, which will be held in the shadow of the multi-crore Saradha scam being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, will provide the contesting parties a whiff about which way the wind is blowing before municipal elections and around 80 civic bodies’ elections across the state which will be held in the middle of this year.
The by-elections would be held amid tight security arrangements in the presence of adequate central forces and state police personnel, state’s Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta told PTI.
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Eleven candidates, including two women, are contesting the by-election to the Bongaon (SC) Lok Sabha seat in North 24-Paraganas district, bordering Bangladesh.
For the by-election to the Krishnaganj (SC) Assembly seat in Nadia district, five candidates are in the fray.
While a total of 15,65,447 electorates will cast their votes for the Bongaon LS seat, a total of 2,44,988 electorates will vote for their candidates in the Krishnaganj (SC) Assembly seat, Gupta said.
The by-elections will be held in 1,863 polling stations in Bongaon Parliamentary seat and in 288 polling stations in Krishnaganj Assembly seat, the CEO said, adding, polling personnel have already reached their respective polling stations with polling material.
Gupta also said strong surveillance via video cameras and mobile units of the EC would be in place under the guidance of election observers during the polling process.
The Bongaon parliamentary seat fell vacant after the death of Trinamool Congress MP Kapil Krishna Thakur. His wife Mamata Bala Thakur has been nominated by TMC to contest from the seat.
The election to Bongaon turned significant after Mamata Banerjee lost one of her ministers to the BJP less than a month before the polls.
Manjul Krishna Thakur, state minister for refugee relief and rehabilitation resigned from the ministry and joined the BJP along with his son Subrata Thakur, who is contesting as a BJP candidate from the seat.