At 8 am on March 27, the first phase of the eight-phase mega election exercise will kick off in two of the five states going to polls over the coming month. For the taking in this phase are 77 assembly seats for which 455 candidates are in the fray. Which way the seats will swing will be known on May 2 when votes will be counted in all five states.

Of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry, 77 constituencies in the first two states will vote in the first phase. In West Bengal, elections for the 294-member Assembly will be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29 and 30 seats will vote in the first phase. The voting for the 126-member Assam assembly will be held on March 27, April 1, and April 6 and 47 seats will poll in phase one.

West Bengal

West Bengal is perhaps the most keenly-watched of all the states with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) putting up a spirited opposition to the ruling Trinamool Congress led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Marked by defections, high-decibel campaign and allegations of attacks, the campaign in the state was highly vitriolic, to say the least.

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In the 2016 assembly elections, the ruling Trinamool had won 27 of the 30 seats going to polls in phase 1. The Congress had won two seats and RSP, a constituent of the Left Front, one seat. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had swept this region.

In 2011, when Mamata Banerjee trounced the then ruling Left Front in the state, people in the tribal-dominated districts going to polls on March 27 — Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, West Medinipur, and East Medinipur — voted overwhelmingly for her Trinamool Congress. This trend continued in the 2016 Assembly elections too. Going by the 2019 Lok Sabha elections voting pattern, Trinamool may have a tough time defending this bastion.

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Key contests

Keen contests are likely to be witnessed in these districts this time. In Purulia, sitting Congress MLA Sudip Mukherjee recently joined the BJP and is contesting on the saffron party’s ticket. This time, the Congress has fielded Partha Pratim Banerjee and the Trinamool has given ticket to Sujoy Banerjee.

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Any key contest is likely in the Kharagpur assembly seat, which falls under the Medinipur Lok Sabha constituency represented by Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh. The BJP has fielded Tapan Bhuya for this prestige battle while the Trinamool has relied on sitting MLA Dinen Roy again.

Medinipur is another keenly-watched contest where the Trinamool has replaced sitting MLA Mrigendra Nath Maiti with actor June Maliah against the BJP’s Samit Kumar Das.

(Click here for more on key contests in phase 1 of West Bengal elections)


In Assam, the ruling BJP is looking to retain power in the three-phase assembly elections. While analysts feel that the BJP-AGP combine is comfortably placed in the elections, the Congress’s alliance with Badruddin Ajmal’s AIDUF may upset calculations in some seats.

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In phase 1 elections, 47 of the 126 will vote on March 27. Of these, 37 MLAs are re-contesting, including 24 of the BJP, 6 each from the Congress and AGP, and one from AIUDF. Forty-two of these seats fall in 11 districts of Upper Assam and North Assam, and five from Central Assam’s Nagaon district. In 2016, the BJP had bagged 27 seats and its ally AGP 8 seats. The Congress had won just 9 seats.

This time, the AIUDF is contesting 19 seats as a part of the alliance with Congress. In the 2016 assembly election, the division of voters between Congress and Ajmal’s party had led to the BJP winning over 20 seats.

In the BJP, murmurs have already started over who will the chief minister if the party comes to power on May 2. Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had joined the BJP before the 2016 Assembly election and was widely credited with the party’s win in the state, is seen as a strong contender. Both Sarma and current CM Sarbanda Sonowal are in the fray this time too.

The party has, however, kept the issue open with Assam BJP in-charge and the party’s vice president Baijayant Jay Panda telling ANI, “Our top leaders will contest the polls. Both Sonowal and Sarma are very popular and have a good image among the public. They will definitely contest the polls. There is no problem in the state under the leadership of CM Sonowal and Minister Sarma.”

Key contests

Among the key seats in Phase 1 are Majuli from where chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal is contesting; Gohpur from where Assam Congress president Ripun Bora is contesting; and Sibsagar from where jailed peasants’ rights activist and president of newly formed Raijor Dal Akhil Gogoi is contesting.

(Click here for more on key contests in phase 1 of Assam elections)