Over 81% voting in Tripura panchayat bypolls

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Agartala, Sep 30 (IANS) Over 81 per cent of the around 55,000 electorate on Sunday cast their votes in the bypolls to Panchayati Raj Institutions in 11 blocks in Tripura, an official said.

Tripura State Election Commission and police officials said that except for some minor squabbles in northern Tripura, no untoward incident was reported from the 11 blocks.

The by-elections to 3,386 seats — 3,207 Gram Panchayat seats, 161 Panchayat Samiti seats and 18 Zilla Parishads seats — were scheduled for Sunday, but polling was necessitated only for 11 blocks as most of the seats were filled without election as candidates were elected unopposed.

These seats fell vacant following large-scale resignations of elected representatives of Left and other parties after the BJP-led coalition came to power in Tripura in March. Some of the three-tier Panchayat seats were lying vacant also due to death of PRI representatives.

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“The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier won unopposed around 96 per cent of the Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samiti seats and all 18 Zilla Parishad seats in Tripura,” the State Election Commission (SEC) official said.

Almost all parties, including BJP’s junior partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), following large-scale violence during electioneering, has been demanding rescheduling of the September 30 Panchayat elections to ensure participation of all parties.

The Opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, the Congress and the IPFT, a tribal-based party, had separately urged the SEC to reschedule the election process as they claimed that “massive violence prevented their nominees from filing papers”.

State BJP Spokesman Mrinal Kanti Deb said the opposition parties, especially the CPI-M, could not find suitable candidates and also that most people are not interested to contest as candidates of Left parties and the Congress.

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CPI-M leader Gautam Das told the media: “There was no conducive atmosphere for holding free and fair elections. Out of 35 blocks, non-BJP parties were not allowed to file nominations by ruling party supporters in 28 blocks. That’s why we were demanding rescheduling of Panchayat elections, but the state poll panel did nothing positive.”

–IANS

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