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As the counting of votes for the eight-phased West Bengal assembly elections is underway, early trends show “Khela shesh” (game is over) so far as chief minister Mamata Banerjee is trailing from Nandigram seat while her opponent, BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari is leading from the seat.

Initial trends suggest that the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) is leading on 68 seats while BHaratiya Janata Party (BJP) is leading in 36 seats. TMC’s Aroop Biswas is leading from Tollyganj while BJP’s Babul Supriyo is trailing.

Nandigram witnessed a high-voltage “Khela” (game of power) on 1 April in the second phase of West Bengal assembly polls.

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Making the power battle more interesting, Mamata chose Nandigram over her home turf Bhabanipur seat this time to test her fate in the 2021 elections. It was the agitation in Nandigram and Singur against the Left government’s land acquisition policies that made Mamata Banerjee the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Further, Mamata’s poll campaign this time got a new dimension with a wheelchair after she suffered an injury in March, 2021 while campaigning in Nandigram.

The constituency has seen a direct contest between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her former ministerial colleague Suvendu Adhikari, who had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in December last year. Mamata is contesting from Nandigram and not from her home turf Bhabanipur seat making this election more interesting.

Not to forget here, Adhikari had pledged that he will quit politics if he does not defeat Mamata by 50,000 votes in Nandigram.

The counting of votes on 292 seats in the state has begun on Sunday at 8:00am following the Covid-19 protocol.

The ruling trinamool Congress is leading in seven seats while Bharatiya Janata Party is leading in three seats as per the initial trends.

Bengal witnessed a fierce contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP across eight phases. The Samyukta Morcha comprising the Congress, Left parties and ISF has also tried to put up a strong fight. The BJP has made a concerted attempt to dislodge the TMC.

The Election Commission has made necessary arrangements for counting. The counting is taking place amid an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

While Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) is seeking to seize power for the third consecutive term, the BJP is making claims of winning 200 seats in the 294-member West Bengal Assembly.

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The power-packed campaigns by the main contenders - the Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), involved rallies with large participations and mega roadshows. The third front i.e. the coalition of the Congress, Left Front and Indian Secular Force seemed to be on the back foot when it came to campaigning.

The ambitious BJP did intense campaigning with the goal to topple the incumbent TMC government in the state. To continue its stride in Bengal especially after an overwhelming result in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state, the party brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and many others for campaigning.

‘Tolabaazi’ (extortion), ‘cut money’, syndicate raj and appeasement politics were a few topics over which the BJP targetted the ruling TMC. It was Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek, who had been the target of attacks by the BJP that called him ‘Tolabaaz bhaipo’ (extortionist nephew). Prime Minister Modi’s jibe “Didi...o...didi” against the TMC supremo in his rallies also caught much attention among the public.

Mamata endorsed her governance as the rule of three ‘M’s, that is, ‘Maa’, ‘Mati’ and ‘Manush’ (mother, soil and people). But the Bengal elections had another 3M factor this time, that is, ‘Mamata’, ‘Modi’ and ‘Muslim’. So, Banerjee’s challenge was to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity in Bengal on one side and regain her support base of the minority community that was impacted by the Left-Congress-ISF alliance and stepping in of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM.

Several surveys gave an edge to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). In West Bengal, all exit polls predicted that the BJP would make major inroads and a few also said that the party would emerge victorious.

Times Now-C voter exit poll predicted 158 seats for TMC, 115 for BJP and 19 for others. ABP-C Voter predicted TMC to get 152-164 seats, BJP 109-121 seats and Left-Congress alliance 14-25 seats.

According to Republic-CNX exit poll, BJP with 138-148 seats has an edge over TMC which is predicted to get 128-138 seats.

As per India TV- People’s Pulse, BJP is expected to get 173-192 seats while TMC will be reduced to 64-88 seats and Left-Congress alliance will get 7-12 seats.

Axis My India predicted a hung assembly in Bengal with the ruling TMC expected to get 130-156 seats and BJP 134-160 seats.

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