Moderate polling in peaceful Tripura

February 23rd, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by admin  


Agartala, Feb 23 (IANS) Moderate polling was recorded Saturday in the northeastern state of Tripura in the single-phase assembly elections with no incidents of violence till the early afternoon, officials said. “Polling began at 7 a.m. with men and women queuing up in large numbers to cast their votes in 60 assembly constituencies,” said G.S.G. Ayyangar, the chief electoral officer.

According to Ayyangar, more than 50 percent votes had been cast by 1.30 p.m. and the tempo was expected to increase as the day progressed.

New voters and women appeared the most enthusiastic.

“I expect over 80 percent voting when polling ends at 4 p.m.,” Ayyangar said.

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

“In the wake of threats from separatists and possible violence, a record 60,000 security personnel have been deployed while four air surveillance teams led by senior police officials are also keeping vigil,” the election official said.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) spokesman Gautam Das said: “We are happy with the casting of votes and the polling so far is peaceful.”

The Congress has accused the CPI-M of threatening party supporters.

“CPI-M cadres are intimidating Congress voters in some places,” said Tapas Dey, Tripura Congress spokesman.

“The Election Commission has deployed specially modified EVMs in all the 2,391 polling stations across the state to check possible malpractice and other irregularities,” he added.

About 16,000 poll officials have been deployed to conduct the elections and each polling official has received a life insurance cover of Rs.200,000.

Of the 2,391 polling stations, 108 have been categorised as very vulnerable and 550 as vulnerable in view of militancy and other security related problems.

The Election Commission has, for the first time, appointed 750 micro observers to assist 60 general observers to oversee the poll preparations.

Saturday’s vote will decide the fate of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, his 10 cabinet colleagues, two former chief ministers - Samir Ranjan Burman and Sudhir Ranjan Majumder - Rajmata Bibhu Kumari Devi, opposition leader Ratan Lal Nath, Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) president and former militant leader Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl and a host of others.

After a month-long high-voltage campaign, the ruling CPI-M led Left Front is locked in a direct fight against the opposition combine of the Congress and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT).

The Left Front, which has been in power since 1978 barring one term (1988-1993), has faced a setback with ally Forward Bloc fielding its own candidates in 12 constituencies.

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