The first phase of the 2016 Assembly elections in West Bengal and Assam, where the BJP is eyeing victory, is set to begin Monday. Security has been tightened in Maoist hotbed Jangalmahal area of West Bengal.
Voting in 18 constituencies of three districts, including West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura (also known as Jangalmahal), of the state will start at 7 a.m., Press Trust of India reported. The first part of the first phase has 133 candidates from the BJP, Trinamool Congress and Left parties are in the fray.
Electors will cast their votes at about 4,945 polling booths across the three districts. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has identified 1,962 of the total polling stations as "critical" as it falls under the Maoist belt in the region. The voting process will end at 4 p.m. in the Maoist-affected areas, while at rest of the places it will be over by 6 p.m.
Central and state armed police forces, along with two choppers and a quick response team, will be deployed in the Jangalmahal area. An air ambulance will also be kept on stand-by mode in case of any medical emergency, according to PTI.
"There will be multiple layers of security comprising both central and state police forces. In Left wing extremism affected areas there will be a minimum of one section of force present in every polling station location while in other areas there will be at least half section force present," an election commission official said.
Elections in West Bengal will be held in six phases. The first phase in Maoist-affected regions will be held in two parts, with second scheduled on April 11.
As many as 94 lakh voters will vote for 539 candidates contesting from 65 Assembly seats in 28 districts of the state. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and BJP chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal are also contesting in the first phase, the Daily News & Analysis reported.
The BJP is hoping to sweep away the Congress government from the state by winning majority of the seats with the help of its allies.
"I have attended at least 200 meetings in the 65 constituencies that are going to polls on Monday, and the trend is clear that the BJP and allies will win anywhere between 45 to 50 of these seats," the Indian Express quoted BJP's campaign committee head Himanta Biswa Sarma as saying.
Gogoi is confident of having a massive victory once again. "The Congress had won 54 of these 65 seats in 2011. We are likely to get more seats than last time," he said.
The second phase of Assam Assembly elections will be held on April 11. A large percentage of the electors who will cast their votes in the second phase are Muslims.
The India TV-CVoter opinion poll predicts a hung Assembly in Assam.
The Congress and the BJP will have a close fight in the Assam Assembly elections. The opinion poll shows the BJP ahead of the Congress with 55 seats, failing to reach the half-way mark in the 126-member state Assembly, the Times of India reported.
Congress candidates may win in 53 constituencies and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) is likely to win 12 seats, according to the poll.
In West Bengal, opinion polls predict a victory for Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress with 160 seats, crossing the half-way mark in the 294-member Assembly. The Left parties will go on to win 106 seats, the Congress, 21, and the BJP is expected to win only four seats, according to the TOI.
The final results will, however, be clear after the counting of votes begins May 19. All the election process is expected to be over before May 21.