Kolkata: The battle for Bengal enters Junglemahal as people in 38 constituencies lying in the region would exercise their franchise in the 5th phase of Assembly elections on Saturday. The stakes for the ruling CPM are very high in this phase as the region going to polls has traditionally been a stronghold of the ruling party.

However, it appears to be an uphill task for the Buddhadeb-led Left Front to repeat its performance in the region. The political scenario in the bastion of CPM has changed to a great extent over the last two years.

The assembly segments in Naxal-infested districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia are part of the 38 seats going to polls on Saturday.

The ruling dispensation is fighting this election in the region on two fronts. On one hand, where they are facing the heat of the Maoists, on the other, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has been campaigning in the region by inciting hopes of change.

Apart from that, delimitation has also changed the dynamics of several Assembly seats, adding to the problem of the ruling party.
In the last election, CPM had captured 35 out of the 38 seats going to polls on Saturday.

Out of the 12 Assembly seats in West Midnapore, CPM had won 10 in the last election with the other two seats going to the Congress. In the same way CPM and its allies won all the 5 seats in Purulia, 9 in Bankura and 11 out of 12 Assembly seats in Vardhman district.

However, winds of change swept the region during the last Lok Sabha elections. Despite that the ruling front still managed to protect its fort in Bankura and Purulia and is hopeful that their voters would stay loyal to them during their do-or-die election this time.

A total of 193 candidates are in the fray including Health Minster Surya Kant Mishra and Congress state president Manas Bhuian.

JPN/Bureau