Tripura civic polls: Voting turnout 81.52% amid violence; TMC, CPI(M) demand election be countermanded

Agartala: As Tripura civic body elections concluded amid allegations of violence and booth capturing with opposition parties demanding that the polls be cancelled. The Election Commission of India on Thursday informed that 81.52 per cent voting turnout at Tripura civic polls till 9.30 pm was reported. 

Refuting the allegations of the opposition parties that the ruling BJP government resorted to open intimidation and attacks on candidates and polling agents, it said that they are trying to obtain public sympathy fearing defeat.

BJP`s rebel MLA Sudip Roy Barman, however, came in support of the opposition parties and was quoted by ANI as saying id, “such kind of activities were earning bad name for the party. According to police, the situation is under control and an extensive security net has been extended across the city to avert any unwanted incident.”

Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Sadar Ramesh Yadav told ANI, “the whole election process is running peacefully and the media is keeping its close watch on the procedures. Nothing is there. People are exercising their franchise. One of the Trinamool Congress leaders said that enough security has been given to his booth. Now a separate delegation sat on a Dharna in front of the East Agartala Police Station. We are not going to tolerate this and if section 144 is violated strict action is going to be taken against them.”

Yadav reportedly said that the CPI(M) had also staged a Dharna in front of the West Agartala Police Station and the police took note of the party`s grievances, adding “The CPI(M) people told us about their problem although the incidents were not reported under my jurisdiction, we noted down their grievances and communicated to the police of that subdivision.”

Yadav was speaking on the sidelines of a Dharna staged by Trinamool Congress supporters led by party leader Subal Bhowmik in front of the East Agartala Police station. The SDPO and the officer in charge of the police station tried to convince them to lift the Dharna but failed. Resultantly, all the 30 to 40 leaders were arrested. 

The Left has also held a Dharna in front of the West Agartala police station, as they were holding red flags, indulged in sloganeering, besieging the police station. Pabitra Kar, a senior leader of the CPI(M) told ANI, “our polling agents, candidates have been forcefully ousted from polling booths by BJP hoodlums. We demand fresh elections where polling agents of no political party will be allowed and only the poll staff are going to conduct the polls. I dare the Biplab Deb government to order such an election.”

Tripura Left Front convener Narayan Kar said security forces were not mobilised properly, despite directions to that end by the Supreme Court. The Left Front sought fresh polls in Agartala Municipal Corporation and four municipal councils — Dharmanagar, Khowai, Belonia and Melaghar.

Meanwhile, ruling BJP MLA Sudip Roy Barman has expressed his anguish over the conduct of polls and claimed that booths were being jammed and people from outside areas were being brought to the poll-bound urban local bodies. 

An estimated 75.04 per cent of over 4.93 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 4 pm for elections to Tripura’s 14 civic bodies, according to officials of the State Election Commission (SEC). 

The total number of eligible candidates for the polls stand at 4,93,041 and with 2,43,249 male and 2,49,778 female voters in 14 Urban Local Bodies where contests are taking place out of 20 total such bodies. 

The BJP has already won 112 of the total 334 seats uncontested in Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) and 19 other civic bodies in the state. Polling was held in 222 seats across six nagar panchayats, seven municipal councils and AMC. Votes will be counted on November 28.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court had directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to provide two additional companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to secure the polling booths during the Tripura civic polls. 

The Supreme Court, following a petition from the CPI-M and Trinamool Congress` Rajya Sabha Member Sushmita Dev. had earlier asked the Tripura Police to ensure that none of the political parties were prevented from exercising their rights to campaign, for the Thursday`s municipal elections, in a peaceful manner.

Similar directions, following petitions from the CPI-M, were also given by the Tripura High Court.

98 arrested for poll-related violence in Tripura

As many as 98 persons were arrested for poll-related violence in the state, as polling for Tripura civic polls concluded on Thursday evening. 

Speaking to reporters, Director General of Police of Tripura Police, VS Yadav said, “98 people arrested for poll-related violence in Tripura Today. This includes people from AITC, CPI(M), BJP and 41 outsiders violating the restrictions.”

He further said, “The pictures, videos and location of violent incidents that took place across the state were not reported to the police or state election commission beforehand. Things came in media first and after a long time, the officials were intimated. Accordingly, actions were taken.”

(With Agency Inputs)

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