West Bengal Elections- Truly, the ‘Game is On’!

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Recently, Nandigram witnessed a direct contest between Mamata and her former colleague Suvendu Adhikari, who had joined the BJP in December last year. Nandigram is the home turf of Adhikari, while Mamata is contesting from Nandigram and not from her home turf Bhabanipur constituency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are expected to host rallies in Bengal’s Hooghly district today. While Mamata Banerjee will address a public meeting at 1.30pm in Tarakeswar assembly constituency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing crowds in neighbouring Haripal assembly segment, bordering Tarakeswar, at around 2.45pm.

The focus, though, will be the assembly seat of Tarakeswar which falls under the Arambagh Lok Sabha seat. Located 63 km from Kolkata, Tarakeswar is a popular Hindu pilgrimage town in Bengal’s Hooghly district. Tarakeswar goes to polls in the third phase of the high-octane West Bengal elections on April 6.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president JP Nadda has said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is certainly losing from Nandigram and is therefore searching for another seat to contest. The second phase of the West Bengal assembly elections concluded on Thursday with an estimated 80% voting turnout. In phase-II, 30 Assembly constituencies from the districts of Bankura, South 24 Parganas, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur went for polls deciding the fate of 171 candidates including 19 women. 

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Also, BJP has added MP Jyotiraditya Scindia to the list, making him a star campaigner for the polls along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president JP Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and several other union ministers. Some of the others on the list include Nitin Gadkari, BJP candidate from Debra (West Midnapore) constituency Bharti Ghosh, Smriti Irani, Mithun Chakraborty, Manoj Tiwari, John Barla and Suvendu Adhikari.

Amidst of all these, the Election Commission of India (ECI) earlier had asked two poll observers to submit a report on complaints by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee regarding the alleged Nandigram poll violence as the state witnessed the second phase of voting across 30 assembly seats in the assembly elections. The general observer, however, told the poll body that the chief minister left the place at about 3.35 pm after staying there for nearly one and half hour and that “polling was not disrupted at any moment.”

Interestingly, West Bengal is holding an eight-phased election that concludes on April 29 while the results will be announced on May 2. The Nandigram assembly constituency is witnessing a fierce battle between Banerjee, who is contesting from this seat for the first time, and BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, who was once the chief minister’s close aide but jumped the boat in December last year. While Banerjee aims to retain the chief minister’s post for the third term, Adhikari has vowed to leave politics if he fails to defeat her by 50,000 votes.

With the political mercury rising in West Bengal ahead of the Assembly polls, the bitter rivalry among parties is being played out not just through war of words, but also colourful jingles and slogans. Among them, one that has particularly captured the imagination across the political spectrum is the slogan ‘khela hobe’ (Game is on). Over the last few days, Trinamool Congress as well as BJP leaders across the state have been raising the ‘khela hobe’ slogan and there have been viral videos of politicians dancing to its tune. At their respective rallies, even Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee & PM Narendra Modi had referred to the slogan.

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