West Bengal Elections 2021 Live Updates: Will Mamata hit a hat-trick or will BJP breach Bengal bastion?

West Bengal Assembly Election 2021 Live News Updates: From Nandigram to Kolkata, the battle lines have been drawn and all eyes are fixed on Bengal to see who comes out on top.

West Bengal Assembly Election 2021 Live Updates: People across the country have their eyes fixed on the West Bengal election results as the BJP looks to break into the Opposition’s last bastion in the East.

While Mamata Banerjee’s TMC will be hoping to overcome the anti-incumbency factor and come to power for a third consecutive term, the BJP will be trying to build on the big gains it made during the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 in the state. Exit polls have been divided over the final outcome, with some giving only a thin edge to TMC. However, they all agree on one thing — the contest in Bengal will be close and a victory for either TMC or BJP can be a matter of thin margins.

The battle between Adhikari and incumbent CM Mamata Banerjee in the Nandigram seat will be one of the contests to watch out for. A decade ago, the protest against land acquisition in Nandigram was one of the key issues that had catapulted Banerjee to power in the state.

After a poll campaign during which barbs were exchanged, lives were lost and Covid cases escalated in the state, today is going to be a long day for West Bengal.

Follow Live updates on Election Results, 2021, here.

Mamata Banerjee aims to hit hat trick; BJP looks to capitalize on gains it made during 2019 Lok Sabha elections; Counting of votes commences amid the state recording over 17,000 fresh cases; Follow latest updates and trends here:

In West Bengal, counting will take place amid a three-layer security arrangement at 108 counting centres. At least 292 observers have been appointed. As many as 256 companies of central forces have been deployed at the counting centres across 23 districts of the state that voted in eight phases between March 27 and April 29.

Officials, counting agents and others arrive at a counting centre at Siliguri College in Siliguri. (ANI)

Counting of votes begins at 8 am, and the trends are likely to come in mid-morning. In the 294-seat assembly, a party needs at least 148 seats to win the election. Follow this live blog for the latest news and updates. Stay tuned!

Over the years, West Bengal and the country have learned not to underestimate Mamata Banerjee. A fiery leader in disarming sari and chappals, she took lathis and more to do the impossible and topple the Left Front in the state. A decade hence, Mamata finds herself in the same spot, and the country is again watching. Does the two-time Chief Minister still have the fight in her to stop another opponent, far mightier, over the course of an election spread out longer than a month, aiming for what no longer seems impossible?

If the Trinamool supremo retains power, she would join the handful of political leaders in the country to have defeated the Narendra Modi-led BJP, cementing her place as one of the tallest Opposition leaders at a time that the Congress is doddering. If the BJP wins, West Bengal would join the list of states the party sees as crucial to its ideological framework to go its way. (Read Ravik Bhattacharya and Santanu Chowdhury's report)

The longest-ever Assembly polls in West Bengal, held in eight phases, ended on April 29 under the shadow of a raging coronavirus pandemic.

While Mamata Banerjee’s TMC will be hoping to overcome the anti-incumbency factor and come to power for a third consecutive term, the BJP will be trying to build on the big gains it made during the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 in the state. 

If the BJP vote share were to see that meteoric jump, it would mean that the saffron party has to win in most  Assembly seats under those Lok Sabha constituencies where it had won in 2019. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when it won 18 seats, the BJP led in 33 of the total 68 SC-reserved Assembly segments in the state. Out of these 33 seats, 26 are Matua-dominated. The Lok Sabha results show there has been a swing in the SC vote towards BJP. (Read full report here)

Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata stand in a queue to vote. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

What Exit Polls show

One point that all these exit polls agree upon is the fact that BJP can win well over 100 seats, which will be a massive jump from the three seats it bagged in the Assembly polls in 2016. Consequently, the saffron party’s vote share may also increase from 10% last time to around 43% as predicted by the India Today-MyAxis poll or just over 39% as predicted by ABP-CVoter. If the BJP vote share were to see that meteoric jump, it would mean that the saffron party has to win in most  Assembly seats under those Lok Sabha constituencies where it had won in 2019. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when it won 18 seats, the BJP led in 33 of the total 68 SC-reserved Assembly segments in the state. Out of these 33 seats, 26 are Matua-dominated. The Lok Sabha results show there has been a swing in the SC vote towards BJP.

Healthcare workers carry out rapid antigen tests of journalists who will be present at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on May 2 during the counting of votes, (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

Bengal imposes new curbs to tackle Covid surge

A day after announcing a partial lockdown in the state, the West Bengal government on Saturday issued more restrictions to curb the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

In a new order, the state government said on Saturday that not more than 50 people will be allowed to be present at marriage ceremonies and other congregations.

“Marriage gatherings and other familial gatherings will also be seriously restricted and subjected to strict observance of Covid appropriate norms (e.g. strict use of masks, sanitizers, physical distancing, etc). Generally speaking, the number of invitees to marriages and other familial gatherings should be restricted to the minimum possible number, and at no point of time should there be congregations of more than 50 persons in any ceremony,” the order stated.

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