Agartala: The elections to the three-tier gram panchayats in Tripura would be held on Saturday in only 994 of the total of 6,646 seats as the ruling BJP has already won 85 percent seats unopposed, officials said on Friday.
An official of the Tripura State Election Commission (SEC) said that 8,54,900 of the total 12,03,070 electors would exercise their franchise in 833-gram panchayats, 82 panchayat samitis, and 79 Zilla Parishad seats. In all, 2,327 candidates are contesting the elections to be held in 1,848 polling stations in 31 blocks under eight districts.
Over 9,500 government employees and senior officials have been put on duty to conduct the polling. Counting of votes will take place on July 31. Tripura Police Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Arindam Nath told the media that elaborate security arrangements have been made to conduct the polling in rural areas, smoothly and peacefully.
“Several Opposition parties, including CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and Congress, did not field candidates in the majority of seats and the two parties have also withdrawn many candidatures,” the SEC official said.
Panchayat elections are scheduled to be held on Saturday in 6,646 seats of 591-gram panchayats (6,111 seats), 35 panchayat samitis (419 seats) and eight Zilla Parishad (116 seats). The electioneering for the local bodies had been accompanied by political violence and clashes earlier this month injuring at least 75 political leaders and workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, CPI-M, and Congress.
According to the police, the pre-poll violence and clashes mainly occurred in the South Tripura, West Tripura, Khowai and North Tripura districts. Leaders of the CPI-M-led Left Front and the Congress have separately alleged that due to “large scale intimidation by BJP workers, there is no conducive situation to hold the panchayat polls” and so their candidates have failed to submit nominations in thousands of seats.
The Opposition also alleged that BJP workers and the party-sponsored hooligans were still intimidating their small number of candidates who are in the electoral race despite unprecedented terrorization and intimidation. “The police and the State Election Commission remained inactive and an onlooker in dealing with the violent situation in the state,” the Opposition leaders told the media separately.
CPI-M state Secretary and the Party Central Committee member Gautam Das said that they had complained to the State Election Commission that some of the returning officers were also acting in BJP’s favor and had not even accepted the valid nomination papers of the Left candidates.
“As the BJP has already detached itself from the people due to its 16 months of misgovernance, it is now banking on hooligans and criminals to keep the opposition parties out of the electoral contest.” “The ruling BJP is making a mockery of the election process for the local bodies in Tripura,” State Congress vice-president Tapas Dey told media persons.
Rubbishing the accusations, BJP leaders claimed that the opposition parties have lost their political bases and were not getting anyone for fielding as candidates. “Both the CPI-M and the Congress are not ready to fight the panchayat elections fearing their inevitable defeat. That is why they are making unfounded and fake allegations against the BJP,” party spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee said. (IANS)