The five-phase Lok Sabha poll in West Bengal rolls out tomorrow in four constituencies of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar – all in north Bengal.
A closely-fought contest is anticipated in the Darjeeling constituency between GJM-backed BJP candidate S S Ahluwalia and Trinamool Congress candidate Baichung Bhutia, the two representing the two sides of a bitter war over statehood for the hills.
Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal will be in five phases from April 17 to May 12.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Darjeeling had gone to the BJP, while in the other three constituencies left Front candidates had emerged victorious.
A total of 60,14,258 voters, of whom 31,14,184 are men and 29,00,024 women, are eligible to make their choices among 47 candidates in four-cornered contests.
A number of top national leaders have campaigned in these constituencies. While BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a huge rally at Siliguri, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attended a workers’ meet in the Dooars.
Though the TMC has never won any of these north Bengal seats, it is banking on its good performance in the 2011 Assembly elections and is making an all-out effort to open its account in this area.
The CPI(M) has, however, kept its campaign in these constituencies low key depending on the candidates and local leaders to spearhead the campaign.
While RSP has fielded sitting MP Manohar Tirkey from Alipurduars, CPI(M)’s incumbent in Jalpaiguri seat Mahendra Roy has also been fielded.