The final and sixth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections concluded on Thursday. The 2016 election was not only a litmus test for the incumbent Trinamool Congress (TMC) but also a rare moment in state politics where the staunch rivals CPI(M) and the Congress collaborated for the first time to oust the ruling party. The BJP on the other hand tried to ascertain their presence in the state, where they merely had a few MLAs in Vidhan Sabha and just two MPs in Lok Sabha from Bengal.
All the phases were marked with sporadic violence and one CPIM supporter lost his life in the third phase of the polling held on April 21.
Full coverage: West Bengal Assembly elections 2016
The Election Commission had divided the polling for 294 constituencies in six phases held on seven different dates.
In the six-phase elections, the no. of polling stations in West Bengal incread from 51,919 in 2011 to 77,247 in 2016.
Phase 1, part one: April 4
The first part of first phase election began with the polling in three districts of West Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia including the backward and controversial areas of Jangalmahal in the state. In the April 4 polls, 18 constituencies went for polling out of which 13 constituencies were identified as Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected areas and time for casting votes was reduced by two hours and closed at 4 pm. without any report of violence. Around 80 per cent voters turnout was recorded in this phase.
Phase 1, part two: April 11
In the second part of the first phase elections held on April 11, remaining 31 constituencies went polling. Amid sporadic incidents of clash and scorching heat, 79.56 per cent votes were cast in part two of the first phase of polling.
Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal, Sunil Gupta, said while the voter turnout in West Medinipur district was 84.71 per cent, it was 78.87 per cent in Bankura and 75.12 per cent in Burdwan.
Phase 2: April 17
The second phase of the election were held in the crucial region of North Bengal where the growing Gorkhaland movement have been a major challenge for the ruling TMC government as well as erstwhile CPM government.
79. 70 per cent of about 1.22 crore voters exercised their right to franchise across 56 constituencies in the second phase of elections to the West Bengal.
Five of the constituencies were in Alipurduar district, seven in Jalpaiguri, nine in North Dinajpur, six each in Darjeeling and South Dinajpur and 12 in Malda districts. Malda, which recently hit headlines for the communal violence and growing manufacturing units of crude bombs was also a crucial district in this phase elections. Malada was also important to the Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, as it was the only district where the party could not win a single seat in 2011 Assembly elections.
The only south Bengal district going in this phase was Birbhum. Of its 11 constituencies, seven — Dubrajpur, Suri, Nalhati, Rampurhat, Sainthia, Hansan and Murarai — were classified as affected by Left-wing extremism and polling in these areas ended two hours earlier than elsewhere at 4 pm.