Updated: April 7, 2021 1:23:13 am
The eighth general elections to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) Tuesday recorded 76 per cent turnout till 3 pm amid reports of stray violence among the contesting political parties. While the final turnout report is yet to be compiled, polling is learnt to have continued beyond 4 pm in several polling stations as voters stood in queues.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, State Election Commission secretary Prasenjit Bhattacharjee informed that 76 per cent turnout was recorded till 3 pm. Inputs from different polling stations are still coming in, he informed.
The polls, held across 1244 polling stations for choosing candidates in 28 out of 30 seats in the tribal council, started at 7 am amid tight security. A total of 16 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 5,864 Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawans, 3,435 Tripura Police and 263 Home Guard personnel were mobilized to ensure law and order during the polls. Poll observers, leaders of recognised political parties, and candidates were provided security cover as well.
However, scattered reports of purported booth jamming, efforts to capture polling booths kept coming in through the day. Few cases of violence at Tulamura in Gomati district, Belonia in South Tripura, Bishalgarh in Sepahijala district were also reported.
Tripura Police said they handled these cases with promptness and agility. Assistant Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Subrata Chakraborty told reporters that the overall law and order situation during the polls was “peaceful”. However, the official admitted that there were “scuffles” between two political parties in some places. The police then intervened and solved the issues, he added.
AIG Chakraborty also said some miscreants tried to capture polling booths at Bishalgarh in Sepahijala district, 35 Km from here. The police had to open blank fire to disperse them, the official added.
“No FIRs registered till now. But in Bisramganja under Sepahijala district, some miscreants came and tried to capture the booths but later police open fired to disperse them,” he said.
Opposition CPI(M) and Congress accused the ruling BJP of violence and said the party’s cadres were seen trying to capture polling booths, disturb the poll process and attack polling agents.
“Motorcycle-borne BJP goons have been intimidating voters since last night. They tried to capture booths in some places but people came out in protest this time. It is now clear that BJP is losing support,” state Congress president Pijush Kanti Biswas said. He also claimed that the ADC polls would prove to be a major game-changer for the state’s politics in the coming days. Biswas hinted that Congress might seek repolling in seats where the party feels fair polls weren’t held.
CPI(M) state secretary Goutam Das made similar allegations and said BJP cadres attacked voters and forced voters, polling agents to vacate polling booths in several places.
TIPRA chief and royal scion Pradyot Kishore said polls were largely held peacefully but accused ruling BJP and IPFT supporters of creating a “lot of trouble” during the poll hours.
BJP spokesperson Subrata Chakraborty, however, denied the charges and claimed his party workers came under attack from TIPRA and CPI(M) supporters. The two parties conspired to disrupt the poll process, Chakraborty alleged.
Tripura ADC polls were mainly contested between CPI(M), which held the fort in the last four consecutive terms, the BJP-Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) combine, which now rules the state government, and Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA)——a new alliance of tribal parties of Tripura headed by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma.
In the 30-seated TTAADC, 28 are elected while the rest two are nominated. A total of 8,65,041 voters exercised their franchise at a total of 1244 polling stations. Of them, 4,36,548 were males while the remaining 4,28,490 were females.
Tripura ADC comprises 70 per cent of the state’s geographical area and houses nearly one-third of the state’s population, who belong to 19 tribal communities. The polls, which were scheduled to be held on May 17 last year, were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The existing Left-ruled ADC council was later dissolved and its charge was handed over to Governor RK Bais.
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