Tripura records impressive polling percentage

GUWAHATI: Amid sporadic incidents of violence, Tripura on Thursday registered more than 81 per cent voters turn out as families of the Bru community, which migrated from Mizoram to Tripura two decades ago, exercised their franchise for the first time. The voting percentage is likely to go up when the final figures come in.

Voting began at 7 am under tight security across 3,337 polling stations, out of which 1,100 were identified as sensitive and 28 as critical. As many as 31,000 polling personnel and 25,000 security personnel of the central forces were deployed for the smooth conduct of the elections.

At least three people, including a CPI(M) leader and two polling agents of the Left party, were injured in separate incidents of violence during the polling.

The Election Commission confirmed that one CPI(M) supporter was beaten outside Kalacherra polling station in 36 Shantirbaazar in south Tripura district. "He was taken to the hospital by our officials. He is not able to tell the names of the attackers. A suo motu FIR has been lodged in Shantirbaazar PS. We will arrest the culprits soon," the chief election officer (CEO), Tripura, said in a tweet.

Interacting with the media, CEO Gitte Kirankumar Dinakarrao said, "The members of Bru community came out for the first time to cast their votes at the Haduklaupara polling booth in the 47 Ambassa Assembly constituency in Tripura’s Dhalai district."

Mr Dinakarrao said: "A large number of voters were seen queuing in front of polling stations since morning to exercise their franchise. The polling process has largely remained peaceful amidst tight security."

Massive security deployment was put in place in the state, where a triangular contest between the BJP, the Left Front-Congress alliance and new entrant Tipra Motha is on the cards in a majority of the 60 Assembly seats. Of these 60 seats, 20 seats adjoining a tribal council are reserved for the state’s 19 Scheduled Tribes, while 10 are reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

EVM malfunctioning was reported in 40-45 places, but according to the CEO, all the machines were replaced and voting was not hindered.

The Opposition accused the incumbent BJP of poll violence. Leader of the Opposition and former chief minister Manik Sarkar alleged that miscreants on behalf of the BJP caused trouble and stopped people from casting their votes.

Tipra Motha chief Pradyot Debbarma claimed that the BJP workers indulged in violence in some parts of Tripura. "We got information that Dhanpur and Mohanpur have witnessed violence by the ruling party," he told reporters, adding, "We have complained about the violence and the malfunctions in the EVMs. I want the entire voting process to be over by dark."

The Congress has accused the BJP of booth capture and poll violence. Reacting to the accusations, CEO Tripura asked the respective district administration to look into the matter on an urgent basis.

The Tripura CEO on Thursday also issued notices to the state units of the Congress and the BJP, as well as BJP national general secretary Dilip Saikia, for seeking votes on Twitter when polling was going on.

The Election Commission said the tweets are violative of election law as they were made in the 48-hour "silence period", which began on Tuesday evening.

According to the Election Commission, there were 28.14 lakh eligible voters in this year's elections -- 14,15,233 men, 13,99,289 women, and 62 of the third gender. Voting took place at 3,337 polling stations across the state.

Chief minister Manik Saha, who is contesting the polls from the Town Bardowali constituency, was among the early voters. He exuded confidence that the BJP will secure an absolute majority in the Assembly. "I am 100 per cent confident that the BJP will secure an absolute majority in the elections. The party may get more seats than it did the last time," he told reporters on his way to a polling booth here.

Rajya Sabha MP and former CM Biplab Kumar Deb said that the BJP will win 40 of the 60 seats in the state. "Tripura has a tradition of giving massive mandates... The BJP-IPFT alliance won 44 seats in the 2018 polls; the Left Front bagged more than 40 seats in 2002," he said.

Congress MLA Sudip Roy Barman congratulated the voters for casting their votes in large numbers despite "terror tactics". "I congratulate the electors for voting despite the terror tactics. Sensing their (the BJP) impending defeat, they are desperate to create trouble. The people of Tripura have already decided to vote for the restoration of democracy," he told reporters.

Mr Roy Barman also appealed to the people not to leave the booths without exercising their franchise due to the slow pace of voting or some technical snag.

The BJP is contesting 55 Assembly seats and its ally IPFT has fielded candidates in six constituencies. The two parties will have a friendly fight in one seat. The Left Front is contesting 47 seats and the Congress 13 constituencies.

The TMC has fielded nominees in 28 constituencies. There are 58 independent aspirants in the fray.

Votes will be counted on March 2.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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