The election for West Bengal's 30 Assembly constituencies during the first phase covers all constituencies from the districts of Purulia and Jhargram and some constituencies from Bankura, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur. This is the first of eight poll dates that will be spread over the next month. Election results are to be declared on May 2.
In, West Bengal's Purulia, sitting MLA of Congress Sudip Mukherjee who joined the BJP recently is contesting. In the last assembly election, Mukherjee had defeated Jyoti Prasad Singh Deo of TMC. In 2021 polls, Congress has fielded Partha Pratim Banerjee and TMC has fielded Sujoy Banerjee.
Shantiram Mahato, Minister for Self Help Group and Self-employment and P.U.P department is contesting from Balarampur constituency from Purulia district, while Uttam Kumar Bandyopadhyay is contesting from Congress.
Congress' Nepal Chandra Mahato is contesting from Baghmundi constituency in Purulia. Ashutosh Mahato is fielded from All Jharkhand Students Union AJSU party, an ally of the BJP while Sushanta Mahato is contesting from TMC.
In the Medinipur constituency in Paschim Medinipur district, TMC has fielded actor June Maliah after the death of the sitting MLA Mrigendra Nath Maiti in December 2020. BJP has fielded Samit Kumar Das. From CPIM, Tarun Kumar Ghosh is contesting.
The party has fielded Partha Pratim Das against Santanu Pramanik of BJP and Himangshu Das of CPI(M) in Khejuri, which is a seat reserved for scheduled castes in East Medinipur district.
TMC veteran and incumbent MLA Akhil Giri are contesting from the Ramnagar constituency in Purba Medinipur. The BJP has fielded Swadesh Ranjan Nayak. Sabyasachi Jana is contesting from CPI (M).
In the Kharagpur constituency, the contest is between Dinen Roy (TMC), Tapan Bhuiya (BJP) and Sk.Saddam Ali (CPIM).
Bankura houses around 42 per cent of SC and ST voters, which are the main targets of the three parties. The rural population of Bankura stands at 92.67 per cent. TMC has fielded actor Sayantika Banerjee against BJP's Niladri Sekhar Dana, while Radha Rani Benerjee will be contesting from Congress. The Bankura seat went to Congress candidate Shampa Daripa in 2016, who later joined Trinamool.
Chandana Bauri, a daily wager is contesting on the BJP ticket from Satlora (SC) constituency in the Bankura district. Sontosh Kumar Mondal is contesting from TMC. Nandadulal Bauri is from CPI (M).
In Jhargram constituency, TMC's Birbaha Hansda will face off against BJP's Sukhmoy Satpati. Jhargram carries a great deal of significance for the parties. Once known as a den for Maoists, the district is dominated by SC/ST communities - Santhals and Kurmis. The Kurmis have electoral importance in about 30 out of the 42 constituencies in the region, so both parties are fighting hard to gain the support of the community.
Although BJP had secured a strong position in Purulia and Jhargram in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, many believe that the ruling TMC has somehow managed to garner back some support through new programmes such as 'Duare Sarkar'.
The first phase of polling will decide the electoral fate of 191 candidates including 21 women.
TMC had won 27 out of these 30 seats in the 2016 elections and BJP was not a major player in the last polls. However, the party has gained in strength in the past five years and has emerged as the main challenger to the ruling party which has won two successive assembly polls.
The BJP won 18 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections against 22 won by the TMC.Congress had won two seats going to the polls in the first phase and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) had won one seat.