Moderate polling in Tripura Assembly elections

Agartala, Feb 18: Voters queued up in large numbers outside polling booths in Tripura from early morning on Sunday as the single-phased Assembly elections progressed peacefully, officials said.

An election department official said that snags in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) attached with VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) in over 150 polling stations, resulted in slow balloting across the state.

"Around 35 to 40 per cent votes were cast so far and there are long queues in most of the polling stations both in plain and mountainous areas," the official told IANS.

In the 2013 and 2008 Assembly polls, Tripura scripted a record in the electoral history in India by casting 92 per cent and 91 per cent votes respectively.

"The Election Commission has deployed specially modified EVMs attached with VVPATs in all the 3,174 polling stations across the state. We are replacing or rectifying the EVM-VVPAT and voting resumed in those polling stations after that," Additional Chief Electoral Officer Tapas Roy told IANS.

He said voting was peaceful and incident free.

Balloting is being held in 59 of the 60 assembly constituencies. Polling has been deferred in Charilam tribal reserved constituency due to the death of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate Ramendra Narayan Debbarma. It will be held on March 12.

A total of 292 candidates, including 23 women and many independents are in the fray in Sunday's election. 

Counting will take place on March 3.

Of the 3,174 polling stations, 47 polling stations are being completely handled by women personnel. In all, 2,536,589 people, including 1,250,128 women and 47,803 first-time voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

The ruling CPI-M has fielded 56 candidates, leaving one seat each to its Left Front partners -- the Communist Party of India, Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in 50 seats and left nine seats for its ally, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT).

The Congress fielded candidates for all 59 constituencies. However, its official nominee, Sukumar Chandra Das in Kakraban-Shalgarha Assembly seat (Scheduled Caste reserved seat), withdrew his nomination and joined the BJP.

The Trinamool Congress has fielded 24 candidates.

Of 60 seats, 20 are reserved for tribals and 10 for Scheduled Caste.

"Apprehending troubles by some tribal outfit, a record 50,000 para-military and other state security personnel have been deployed while two air surveillance team led by senior officials are conducting surveillance by helicopters," an election department official said.

Accompanied by his wife Panchali Bhattacharjee, Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo member Manik Sarkar after casting his vote here said: "It is certain that the 8th Left Front government would be formed after this elections. We are strongly hopeful."

BJP Tripura Pradesh President Biplab Kumar Deb after casting his vote in southern Tripura's Udaipur said: "People wants change. People strongly wish for a BJP government in Tripura."


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