Voting for Tripura assembly elections begins

February 23rd, 2008 - 9:58 am ICT by admin  

Agartala, Feb 23 (IANS) Voting for the assembly elections in the northeastern state of Tripura began Saturday amid tight security, officials said. “People in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations well before voting opened at 7 a.m. in the entire state. Polling ends at 4 p.m.,” said G.S.G. Ayyangar, the chief electoral officer.

In all, 2.03 million people, about half of them women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 313 candidates, including 31 women and 64 independents.

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

“The Election Commission has deployed specially modified electronic voting machines (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 got 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, for the first time, has appointed 750 micro observers to assist 60 general observers to oversee the poll preparations.

Saturday’s vote would 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 host of top leaders of various parties.

After a month long high-voltage campaign for the crucial assembly polls in Tripura, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front is locked in a direct fight against the opposition Congress party.

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