AGARTALA, Sept 15: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won unopposed 96 per cent of the Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samiti seats and all the 18 Zilla Parishad seats in Tripura, a State Election Commission (SEC) official said. The by-elections to 3,386 seats — 3,207 Gram Panchayat seats, 161 Panchayat Samiti seats and 18 Zilla Parishads seats — are scheduled for September 30.
These seats fell vacant following large-scale resignations of elected representatives of Left parties after the BJP-led government came to power in Tripura. Some of the three-tier Panchayat seats were lying vacant also due to the death of those representing them.
“The candidates belonging to BJP elected unopposed in 3,075 Gram Panchayats, 154 Panchayat Samities and all the 18 Zilla Parishads seats. Now election would be held on September 30 for 132 Gram Panchayat and seven Panchayat Samiti seats only,” an SEC official said.
The last date of withdrawal of nominations was on Friday. Almost all parties including the ruling BJP’s junior partner, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), 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, separately urged the SEC to reschedule the ongoing election process as they claimed that “massive violence prevented their nominees to file papers”.
These parties alleged that the ruling BJP workers prevented their candidates from submitting nomination papers in 35 blocks on Monday and Tuesday. The BJP, however, denied the charge.
According to the police, on Monday and Tuesday at least 25 workers of the BJP, IPFT and the Congress and over 10 policemen including two senior officers were injured in a series of clashes between the rival factions of political parties at at least 12 locations across Tripura.
Rubbishing the Opposition parties’ allegations, state BJP spokesman Mrinal Kanti Deb said the opposition parties, especially the CPI-M, could not find suitable candidates for the Gram Panchayat elections and most people are also not interested to contest the elections in Tripura on behalf of the Left parties and the Congress.
But, CPI-M central committee member Gautam Das, after a meeting with Tripura State Election Commissioner G. Kameswara Rao, told the media: “The atmosphere is not conducive to hold free and fair Panchayat elections in Tripura. Out of the 35 blocks, non-BJP parties were not allowed to file nomination papers by the ruling party supporters in 28 blocks.”
Das, who led a Left Front delegation to the SEC, said they have told the election officials that most candidates belonging to non-BJP parties were attacked and their nomination papers and other documents were snatched. “Even the all-party meetings convened by the returning officers (BDOs) in seven blocks were attacked by the BJP supporters. We have been demanding free and fair elections but the state government and the SEC has failed to keep the situation conducive for conducting a smooth election,” the Left leader said. (IANS)