Heavy turnout, peaceful Lok Sabha polls in Tripura (Lead)

April 23rd, 2009 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Agartala, April 23 (IANS) Voting to elect two Lok Sabha members from the northeastern state of Tripura ended peacefully Thursday evening with more than 75 percent people exercising their franchise.
“Over 75 percent of the 20.8 lakh voters cast their ballot across the state,” said Dilip Acherjee, additional chief electoral officer.

In the 2004 parliamentary polls, the state witnessed 67.08 percent voting.

“The voting passed off peacefully with no incident reported from anywhere in the state,” Acherjee said.

The official told IANS that many voters were still in the hundreds of polling stations even after the polling ended at 4 p.m.

“Polling began at 7 a.m. with men and women queuing up in large numbers to cast their votes in two Lok Sabha constituencies,” Acherjee said.

Unlike the previous elections, the festive mood was absent this time as a large section of voters were unenthusiastic, particularly in the urban areas.

However, first time voters and women appeared the enthusiastic.

In some of the polling stations, technical trouble with electronic voting machines (EVM) briefly halted the voting.

“In the wake of possible militants’ violence, 30,000 security personnel were deployed while two air surveillance teams led by senior police officials also keept vigil by two military helicopters,” police spokesman Nepal Das said.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) expressed happiness over the peaceful and huge turn out.

“We are happy with the (huge turnout) and the polling so far is peaceful,” CPI-M state secretary Bijon Dhar said.

The Congress accused the CPI-M of threatening its supporters. “CPI-M cadres are intimidating Congress voters and workers in some places,” said Sudip Roy Barman, the party candidate for Tripura West parliamentary constituency.

Though there are 19 candidates in the two parliamentary constituencies, it is expected to be a triangular contest between the ruling CPI-M-led Left Front, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Trinamool Congress state chairman and senior lawyer Arun Chandra Bhowmik is contesting from the Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency while the party’s vice-president Rita Rani Debbarma is fighting from the Tripura East seat reserved for tribals.

Sitting MPs Khagen Das and Bajuban Reang, both CPI-M central committee members who won in 2004, are again contesting from Tripura West and Tripura East seats respectively against Congress’ Sudip Roy Barman, a sitting legislator, and Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, a former legislator.

Tripura BJP president Nilmani Deb is fighting from Tripura West while the party’s veteran tribal leader Pulin Behari Dewan is the candidate from Tripura East.

Six central observers, 266 magistrates and 500 micro-observes were appointed to oversee the poll process and ensure free and fair elections, said Sanjeev Ranjan, the chief electoral officer of the state.

About 20,000 poll officials escorted by security forces were manning 3,008 polling stations across the state, the poll official said.

Besides sealing the India-Bangladesh international border, night curfew was imposed along the 856-km long territory with Bangladesh, Ranjan said.

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