Over 80% turnout in Tripura civic polls amid violence

Over 80% turnout in Tripura civic polls amid violence

CPI-M and the Trinamool Congress alleged that violence, intimidation and booth capturing that happened

Armed security personnels stand guard as voters stand in que to cast their votes at a polling station during the Tripura Municipal Corporation election in Agartala. Credit: IANS Photo

Amid allegations of large-scale political violence, over 80 per cent of around 5 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the civic polls in Tripura on Thursday, officials said.

According to officials of the State Election Commission (SEC), while no major incidents occurred across the state, the opposition parties including the CPI-M and the Trinamool Congress alleged that violence, intimidation and booth capturing that happened on Thursday, was never witnessed in Tripura since it became a full-fledged state in 1972.

The CPI-M, due to the alleged large-scale malpractices and booth capturing, has demanded countermanding of elections in five civic bodies and in 10 seats in four other local bodies.

A statement from the police headquarters on Thursday said that except for some stray incidents in Agartala and Melaghar, no major incident has been reported from any part of the state.

A total of 4,93,041 voters, including 2,49,778 women, were eligible to cast votes in the Agartala Municipal Corporations (AMC) and other civic bodies -- Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, has already secured a majority in the seven civic bodies in five districts.

On Thursday, elections were held in the 51-seat AMC and 171 seats in seven Municipal Councils and six Nagar Panchayats.

Amid allegations of pre-poll violence by the Opposition parties, the ruling BJP won 112 (34 per cent) of the 334 seats un-contested in the AMC and 19 urban local bodies in Jirania, Ranir Bazar, Mohanpur, Bishalgarh in western Tripura, Santir Bazar and Udaipur in southern Tripura and Kamalpur in northern Tripura.

A total of 785 candidates of various parties, including the BJP, the CPI-M-led Left, the Trinamool, and the Congress, are vying for 222 seats in the AMC and other civic bodies.

Counting of votes will take place on November 28.The leaders, candidates and election agents of the CPI-M and the Trinamool Congress separately organised massive demonstrations here to protest against alleged malpractices by the BJP.

However, the BJP dismissed all the accusations.

Over 50 Trinamool workers and leaders, including state party chief Subal Bhowmik, were arrested in Agartala.

CPI-M state Secretary Jitendra Chaudhury and Left Front Convener Narayan Kar after the elections demanded countermanding of the elections to the five civic bodies and re-polling in 10 seats of other civic bodies.

"Despite directions from the Supreme Court and the High Court, the State Election Commission and the police did not take any steps to conduct the elections free and fair.

"The Director General of Tripura police, despite informing the top court that there are adequate forces in Tripura, did not deploy the central forces properly to help the ruling party to do the malpractices," Chaudhury told the media.

The CPI-M leaders said that they would accordingly apprise the apex court about the violation of its order by the state machinery.

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.

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