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Assembly elections updates: Campaign ends for 1st phase of polls in Bengal & Assam, Dilip Ghosh’s ‘saree’ comment; and more

Here are all the important poll-related updates that you need to know today.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 25, 2021 10:47:17 pm
BJP supporters during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election campaign rally ahead of the Assam Assembly polls , at Sipajhar in Darrang district. (PTI)

The high-voltage campaign for the first phase of the poll in Assam and Bengal came to an end on Thursday evening. A total of 77 assembly constituencies (47 in Assam and 30 in Bengal) will go to the polls on March 27.

In Bengal, the 30 seats are spread across tribal-dominated Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Purba Medinipur (Part 1) and Paschim Medinipur (Part 1) districts which were once considered the citadel of the Left in the state.

The campaign for the seats saw high profile leaders of BJP, which has emerged as the main opposition to the ruling TMC, addressing poll rallies in Purulia, Jhargram and Bankura districts promising ‘ashol poriborton‘ (actual change) to build ‘Sonar Bangla‘ (prosperous Bengal).

On the other hand, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who led the TMC campaign, accused the BJP of bringing “outsiders to the state”. She also attacked Prime Minister Modi for the hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

In Assam, where the fate of 264 candidates hang in balance, the hectic election campaign witnessed the presence of several national leaders including Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, Congress’ Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, who crisscrossed the state to garner support for their respective parties.

Campaign for the BJP and its alliance partner – the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)–was led by the Prime Minister who described the Congress-led Mahajoth (grand alliance) as a ‘Mahajooth’ (grand lie). Modi contended that the grand old party neither has a neta (leaders) nor neeti (principles).

Several other BJP leaders including BJP President J P Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar also wooed the voters in Assam.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi clicks a selfie with a party worker during an election campaign rally at Sarupathar constituency in Golaghat district, Monday, March 22, 2021. (PTI)

On the other hand, the campaign of the Congress party saw visit of its top leaders in the tea belt who promised a set of additional guarantees touching upon women empowerment, agricultural and administrative reforms, infrastructural development, and those focusing on cultural preservation.

In Bengal, Mamata Banerjee alleges BJP interfering in EC functioning

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the BJP of interfering in the functioning of the Election Commission (EC).

The chief minister expressed strong reservations over the large-scale transfer of senior government officials by the EC in the last few days.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a rally in Purulia. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

Banerjee also said that even if the EC transfers all the state officers, Trinamool Congress’ victory cannot be prevented.

She also alleged the EC of having a “step-motherly attitude” towards her government and also dared the commission to “show cause” her. “You can send 10 letters to me. I am not bothered,” she said.

Bengal BJP candidate gets notice for promising free trip to Ayodhya

Jitendra Tiwari, a BJP candidate from West Bengal’s Pandabeswar was issued a showcause notice by the Election Commission for promising voters a free trip to the temple of Lord Ram in Ayodhya if elected, news agency PTI reported.

Tiwari made the promise at two places — once while speaking at a public meeting in Haripur on March 21, and then at a party meeting, they said. The Trinamool Congress lodged a complaint with the EC on March 22 over the issue.

In his reply to the EC notice, Tiwari said that he was unaware that making such a promise would violate the model code of conduct.

Metro man assures BJP’s victory in Kerala

Meanwhile, in Kerala, BJP candidate and ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan said that he was certain the BJP could win in the assembly polls, predicting that “either the party will have a full majority or enough numbers of seats to evolve as a kingmaker in the state”.

“I think this will have a tremendous effect on the morale of people who were let off by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) governments. People will vote for the BJP,” he told news agency ANI.

“My main focus and priority is development. The BJP is fighting the polls on the plank of development,” Sreedharan said during a poll meeting.

Trinamool hits out at Dilip Ghosh over Mamata ‘saree’ comment

Trinamool Congress leaders Thursday hit out at West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh for again making disparaging comments on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “Mamata Banerjee is the Chief Minister of Bengal. She should respect Bengal’s culture. A woman in a saree is showing her legs repeatedly is not Bengal’s culture,” Ghosh said during campaigning on Thursday.

The BJP chief’s comments come a day after he had mocked Mamata for “displaying” her bandaged leg to people, and advised her to wear bermudas instead of a sari so that her leg can be seen “clearly”.

Reacting to Ghosh’s comments, Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim tweeted on Thursday, “If the only sitting female CM in the country can be disrespected so brazenly, am afraid to imagine what they can say about our daughters!”

‘This election is about DMK and AIADMK’

Kanimozhi, Kanimozhi interview, Kanimozhi TN polls, Tamil Nadu elections, TN polls, Indian Express Kanimozhi campaigns in Komarapalayam ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections (Twitter/@KanimozhiDMK)

Speaking to the Indian Express ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, which are to be held on April 6, Thoothukkudi MP Kanimozhi said that the election is only about the DMK and the AIADMK in the state. “I don’t think that in this election anybody else is a significant player. I can’t predict the future,” she said.

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On being asked about the AIADMK-BJP relationship, the Secretary of DMK’s women’s wing, said: “They (AIADMK) are not confident. I don’t think till their leader Jayalalithaa was there, anybody else could call the shots. We had a lot of differences of opinion with her but still, nobody else was making decisions here. Now, even their party decisions are being taken in Delhi. I think this government is at their mercy because they are very scared that the party will split or they are worried about cases which are pending…the (Central) government might go ahead with it.” Read the full interview here.

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