Tripura Left Front Committee today submitted a memorandum to State Election Commissioner G Kameshwara Rao and demanded to defer and reschedule bye-elections in over 3,000 seats of three-tier panchayat bodies which are scheduled to undergo polling on September 30.
In a press conference held today, Left Front leader and CPI (M) spokesperson Goutam Das alleged that a large number of aspiring candidates, mostly from the opposition parties and a few from the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) – an alliance party in the state – couldn’t file nomination papers by the prescribed timeframe due to “fierce physical attack and intimidation” by BJP miscreants in block premises.
He also claimed the State Election Commission played “no role” to protect opposition supporters in the face of attack from BJP in different parts of Tripura.
“There were instances at Jubarajnagar block in North Tripura where nomination papers were snatched away from aspiring candidates inside the block office itself. In other places, those who collected nomination papers were attacked, their houses ransacked and the papers snatched. The three-tier panchayat bye-election has been totally vitiated,” he further added.
Das said he and three other leaders namely — CPI leader Ranjit Majumder, All India Forward Bloc leader Raghunath Sarkar, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) secretary Sudarshan Bhattacharya — met State Election Commissioner GK Rao earlier today.
The left parties sought to defer and reschedule of bypolls and convene an all-party meeting immediately to resolve issues.
Meanwhile, a senior official of the State Election Commission informed indianexpress.com this afternoon that there was no report of violence or forceful prohibition while submitting of nomination in any block. He also said there is no provision to reschedule the election as per rules since neither any candidate had passed away after filing nomination nor were there any reports of poll violence.
“There were a few stray incidents beyond the block offices. Barring one or two cases, nobody sought police protection. There is no chance to reschedule the bye-elections now”, the official, who didn’t wish to be named, said.
Earlier on Wednesday, former Chief Minister and opposition leader Manik Sarkar said that democracy was being slaughtered in Tripura. He alleged that supporters of the opposition party, including CPI (M) and Congress, were barred from filing nomination papers to contest in the panchayat bye-elections.
BJP’s alliance partner in Tripura – IPFT also accused their ally of attacking aspiring candidates in most blocks of the state. Out of 58 blocks in Tripura, panchayat bodies in 35 blocks would undergo bypolls on September 30.
Congress have claimed they could not submit nominations in more than 10 blocks among these while CPI (M) said they could submit nominations in only 8. IPFT also said they could submit nomination papers in 10 blocks in the face of severe attacks from BJP supporters, who they claimed, didn’t want the indigenous party to grow strong.
Both the IPFT and opposition Congress have demanded to countermand bye-elections and alleged large-scale violence during filing of nominations.