As the Election Commission gears up for peaceful conduct of the second phase of West Bengal Assembly elections, the campaigning for Saturday's poll (April 23) comes to an end at 5 p.m. this Thursday.

A total of 293 candidates including 27 women are in the fray for this phase in which 50 of the total of 294 seats will be covered. Of them 51 are independents. In the first phase of the six-phase poll on April 19, a total of 54 Assembly segments were covered.

Altogether 9,333,523 voters including 4,478,887 women are eligible to exercise their franchise in the second phase that will cover Murshidabad, Nadia and Birbhum districts. The Commission has set up 11,532 polling stations. The BJP has fielded the highest number of candidates, 50, followed by the CPI (M), 31, Trinamool Congress 29, Bahujan Samaj Party 27 and the Congress 21.

Meanwhile, Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi, who is in Kolkata to review poll preparedness, held meetings with senior officials including district magistrates and police officers, to take stock of the security preparedness for the second and third phases (April 27) of poll. Sources said that the Commission has directed deployment of 480 companies of Central para-military forces besides the State Police of which Murshidabad district would get 198 companies, Nadia 148 and Birbhum 134. In Murshidabad district alone, 1,415 polling stations have been identified as “hyper sensitive”.

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Phase II of West Bengal polls today April 23, 2011