Amidst claims of rigging by opposition, 82% cast votes in Tripura civic by-polls

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Agartala, Dec 27 (IANS) Over 82 per cent of around 85,000 voters on Thursday cast their votes for the by-polls to the 8 municipal councils and Agartala Municipal Corporations (AMC) in Tripura, officials said.

Though the officials of the State Elections Commission claimed the polling was peaceful and incident-free, opposition Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) alleged that the elections were “completely rigged by ruling BJP leaders, workers and their goons as they captured most polling booths”.

The CPI-M in protest against the “farcical elections” withdrew its candidates from 35 seats in six civic bodies while the Congress demanded a re-poll to 50 per cent of the total of 67 seats for which by-elections were held on Thursday.

The State Elections Commission last month declared by-elections to the 158 seats in 14 municipal bodies including the AMC. However, candidates of rulling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were elected unopposed in 91 seats.

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CPI-M state secretary Gautam Das told the media that their candidates could not submit nominations for most seats.

“Even though where some candidates submitted their candidature, BJP and their hoodlums attacked them, their houses and properties while the police and the State Elections Commission remained as onlookers,” he told the media on Thursday.

“In allmost all places, most of the polling agents including women, were forced out from polling booths to turn the balloting a total farce. Not only the workers and their goons, BJP leaders including its MLA Dilip Das attacked the Left party workers and agents,” Das said.

He said that the BJP workers also physically assaulted former Finance Minister and incumbent Public Accounts Committee Chairman Bhanulal Saha in Bishalgarh in Western Tripura.

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“With the active connivance of the officials of the State Elections Commission and security personnel, the elections were rigged in Udaipur, Belonia, Santir Bazar in southern Tripura and Kumarghat, Kailashahar, Panisagar in northern Tripura besides in Agartala,” said Das, a member of the CPI-M central Committee.

Congress leader Harekrishna Bhowmik told the media that the party has demanded a re-poll in almost half of the total of 67 seats as the BJP members have totally controled the elections with the help of the administrations.

BJP spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee rejected the allegations, saying that “people have already turned their face away from these parties as they lost the public support in the assembly polls.”

–IANS

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