WB identity poll: Mamata an underdog in North Bengal?

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Kolkata, Apr 18: The first phase of assembly polls in West Bengal has been kicked off on Monday, Apr 18. 14 per cent polling was recorded in the first two hours of voting in 54 constituencies in six North Bengal districts - Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Malda.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who promised to turn the hill region of the state - Darjeeling into Switzerland, may face a real tough time to owe the people in North Bengal as history showed that Mamata's party and Congress have failed to break CPI(M)'s power at the region. It seems that the identity politics may once again leave a great impact on the voters and play a big role.

Trinamool and Congress are sharing 27 seats each amongst themselves across six districts of North Bengal that also covers the Gorkha population of the hills.

Meanwhile, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said, "We are contesting elections to raise the issue of Gorkhaland in Assembly. It doesn't matter if we have three MLAs. This is our struggle. We will discuss the future of Gorkhaland whoever comes to power. Mamata, if she comes to power, has to listen to our demands."

The first phase of elections began amid tight security. A report from the busiest city in North Bengal -Siliguri, said that over 60,000 central force personnel were deployed and international and state borders sealed in North Bengal. There are 28 general observers, nine finance observers and two police observers deployed by the Election Commission.

In the Darjeeling hills, approx 7000 para-military forces have been deployed for a free and fair poll. The six-phase election will end on May 10 and the vote counting will be conducted on May 13.

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