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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bhabanipur votes in bypoll today, CM’s chair at stake

The constituency, which has twice elected Mamata and is considered her home, will pit the Trinamool Congress supremo against two young faces — BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal and the CPM’s Srijib Biswas.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: September 30, 2021 7:10:23 am
Mamata Banerjee while campaigning for the Bhabanipur bypoll on Friday. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

To ensure watertight security and peaceful polling in Bhabanipur on Thursday, the Election Commission on Wednesday decided to bring in 20 more companies of Central Armed Police Personnel (CAPF) for deployment in the constituency.

A total of 35 companies of central forces will now keep vigil once polling kicks off on Thursday. A source in the poll panel said that the CAPF personnel would not only be called on to secure polling booths but also ensure law-and-order in the surrounding areas.

Apart from being held under a tight security blanket, the elections to two Assembly seats as well as the bypoll in Bhabanipur, which will decide the chief ministership of Mamata Banerjee, will also see strict enforcement of Covid-19 protocol.

At the end of the canvassing phase on Monday, Section 144 of CrPC came into effect within 200 metres of all polling stations in Bhabanipur.

The constituency, which has twice elected Mamata and is considered her home, will pit the Trinamool Congress supremo against two young faces — BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal and the CPM’s Srijib Biswas. However, the polling, this time, assumes special significance as the CM is fighting to keep her chair, while the BJP is eyeing an encore of Nandigram where the Trinamool chief contested and lost to Suvendu Adhikari in the Assembly polls held earlier this year.

While the stakes are high for the two main parties in fray, the Election Commission, too, has its task cut. While 35 companies of central forces have been deployed to ensure free and fair polling Bhabanipur, another 18 and 19 companies have been stationed in Samsherganj and Jangipur Assembly constituencies in Murshidabad. Polling in both these seats had been deferred after the death of candidates during the second wave of the pandemic.

Of the total 2,08,456 eligible voters in Bhabanipur, 1,11,243 are men 95,209 are women. The remaining four voters come under the category of third gender.

Of the total number of polling booths put together in the constituency, 279 are main booths and 16 are auxiliary.

While the contesting parties had been campaigning vigorously in all three poll-bound seats, it was Bhabanipur which courted headlines time and time again as tempers frayed and tensions boiled over.

With Mamata’s chief ministership hinging on Thursday’s vote, the battle for Bhabanipur will hog the spotlight on polling day. In view of the scuffle that broke out on Monday between Trinamool and BJP supporters at Jadu Babur Bazar and Bhabanipur, sources in the EC said special vigilance will be exercised in these two areas.

Half section of the central force contingent, i.e three personnel will man each polling booth in the Bhabanipur constituency. The Quick Response Team of the Kolkata Police will also patrol the area during polling hours. The city police will also be in charge of areas outside polling stations. An officer each of the rank of a deputy commissioner has been put in charge of overall security at each police station in Bhabanipur.

There will be police pickets at 36 places across the constituency from Wednesday morning and they will stay in place till the end of voting. Heavy radio flying squads were also being deployed at nine locations to keep the polling centres safe. Apart from these, 23 RT mobile vans will also be on standby during the polling hours.

With the Met office putting out a gloomy forecast on polling day, the departments concerned, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the Irrigation department, are already on alert.

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