Kolkata: The campaigning for the fourth phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections ended on Thursday (April 8) after witnessing an intense tussle between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Voting for the fourth phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections will commence on April 10, covering 44 constituencies in five districts – Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was mostly the only big face for the ruling party during the poll campaigns, but the BJP brought out its big guns to give the TMC supremo a tough competition, with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, national president of the party JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah campaigning all out.

Amit Shah held several high-profile roadshows in West Bengal, which witnessed a massive crowd turning the electoral fever in BJP`s favour. The Home Minister was also seen having a meal at a rickshaw puller`s resident in Domjur. “I visited only one gram panchayat, but the kind of enthusiasm that I saw there I am confident that Rajib Banerjee will win with a majority,” he told ANI on Wednesday.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister today announced that after BJP clinches victory in the elections, the party will create `anti-Romeo` squads and put `TMC Romeos` behind bars, adding “To safeguard the interests of sisters and daughters, BJP will create Uttar Pradesh-like anti-Romeo squads in Bengal and put all TMC Romeos behind bars,” while addressing a public meeting in Hooghly.

Slamming the Bengal Chief Minister, Adityanath questioned why Banerjee was irritated with `Jai Shree Ram` slogans, saying that “anyone who dares to fight Ram has to face bad results”. He further said, “On May 2, Bengal will get freedom from the TMC government. TMC goons will be taken by the law. Surely, the parties like Congress, CPM and TMC will definitely give protection to the criminals, but they will be sent behind the bars.”

BJP chief JP Nadda also intensified the attack against TMC by saying that the state has decided to give Mamata Banerjee some rest by giving BJP a chance to serve people here, adding “The gathering at this event indicates that the people are eager to bring BJP into power in the state. They are saying that `Mamata ji ko aaram do… BJP ko kaam do` (Give Mamata ji some rest and let BJP work).” 

Nadda also commented that the people of the state have turned against `tolabaaji` (extortion) and corruption and that BJP alone can improve the law and order situation here.

Former TMC minister and BJP`s candidate from the Domjur constituency, Rajib Banerjee also slammed the Chief Minister for betraying the trust of the people of West Bengal, saying that her aim of `Badla nahi badlav` has taken a back seat.

“I was first one to raise voice against corruption in the Amphan relief. Bengal trusted Banerjee (Mamata). When you (Mamata Banerjee) say `Khela Hobe`, what do you mean by that? It means that you will loot the votes just like CPI(M),” Rajib Banerjee said.

On lowering the bar of discourse in campaigns, Rajib Banerjee said the language used by the CM shocked him to the core, adding that BJP will definitely win 12 out of 16 constituencies in Howrah. However, Mamata Banerjee called herself `the Bengal tigress` who would not bend easily. She held several public rallies ahead of the fourth phase, launching a series of attacks against the rival party.

Speaking at a public gathering in Cooch Behar on Wednesday, Banerjee said: “They (BJP) will bring goons from Assam. They will explode bombs and threaten people. Do not be afraid. They do not want our mothers and sisters to vote. Central forces are blocking your mothers and sisters from voting.”

She also alleged that BJP will create detention camps like the ones in Assam and urged people to not convert Bengal into Gujarat, adding “We will not let Gujaratis capture Bengal. Bengal will stay in Bengal, we will not let goons from Gujarat take over Bengal.” 

After the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued her a notice for asking for votes on communal grounds, the TMC supremo challenged the order and said she will continue to ask people to vote unitedly against BJP. 

Speaking at a public rally in Domjur, Banerjee said: “Even if 10 show cause notices are issued against me, my answer will remain the same. I am telling everyone to vote unitedly, there will no division. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians, do not give a single vote to them.

“Hitting out at Rajib Banerjee, who is contesting from the Domjur constituency for BJP, Mamata Banerjee said: “I apologise to the people of Domjur for allowing Gaddar Mir Zafar (Rajib Banerjee) to file nomination in the last election from this constituency. That traitor stole money. When he was Irrigation Minister I had received a complaint so I removed him from that post and made him Forest Minister, he asked me for an engineering department, so that he could take more commission.”

“Bengal will never be yours, this is Rabindra-Nazrul`s Bengal, this is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose`s Bengal, this is Raja Ram Mohan Roy`s Bengal, this is Ambedkar`s Bengal. BJP, you will never get this Bengal,” she proclaimed.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) had asked the Chief Minister to explain her stand within 48 hours after receiving the notice, failing which it shall “take a decision without further reference to you”.

TMC has also roped in actress-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan, who will do roadshows and rallies from April 8 to 11 for the ruling party. During her visit, she heaped praise on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying the TMC supremo is “fighting against all atrocities” and her rivals have not been able to break her resolve “to make Bengal the best in the world”.

The state is witnessing a contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress, the BJP and the `Sanjukta Morcha` of comprising the Left, ISF and Congress.

Although the Sanjukta Morcha has been relatively quieter than the two main parties, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary took a page out of the BJP`s book by saying that after observing the situation, the people had decided that `Ab ki baar, Sanjukta Morcha ki sarkaar` (Next time, it will be Sanjukta Morcha`s government).

A total of 373 candidates will take part in the upcoming phase of polls, out of which over 20 per cent of candidates have declared serious criminal cases against them. The fifth phase of the elections will take place on April 17, while the counting of votes will commence on May 2. 

(With Agency Inputs)

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