70 per cent voters turn out in Tripura

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Agartala, Feb 23 : Around 70 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the election to the 60-member Tripura Assembly. Voting for State Assembly in Tripura has ended today without any reports of violence.

Election department officials said that 85 per cent votes were cast in the state capital. Long queues were seen, particularly in rural areas, even after 4 p.m. at the close of voting.

The state has an electorate of 20,35,877. A total of 313 candidates, including 28 women, are contesting the elections.

In the past, Tripura has seen a contest between the ruling Left combine and the opposition Congress, which has forged an alliance with the pre-dominantly tribal party, the INPT.

The Left, led by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has been in power since 1993 and went all out to retain power in the state.

Tripura has been the only stronghold of the Left in the Northeast.

And for the first time in over 25 years, insurgency is not an election issue instead development or lack of it was a key poll issue.

Sarkar has brushed aside any anti-incumbency factor working against him and was hopeful the Left will come back to power.

Sarkar said that the casting of votes in the singlephase elections in the remote north eastern state has so far been peaceful and transparent, and a key highlight of it was that women voters are coming out in large numbers to exercise their franchise despite tight security.

"During last Assembly elections, the situation was very grim and complicated. The extremists who have their camp in Bangladesh and were being nurtured by the ISI had last time tried to disturb elections. But this time, they have been contained," Sarkar exclusively told ANI.

"We are leaving no room for complacency," he added.

The Union Government has deployed 20,000 paramilitary personnel from the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to keep a check on insurgency and maintain security.

A record 60,000 security personnel have been deployed backed by air surveillance to ensure free and fair polls.

The Election Commission has deployed 750 micro observers to assist 60 general observers in overseeing the election process.

The ruling CPI (M)-led Left Front is locked in a direct fight with the opposition Congress-Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) alliance.

According to reports in various newspapers, prominent among those in the fray are Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Information Minster Anil Sarkar, the PCC president and former chief Minister, Samir Ranjan Barman, the former Chief Minister and Congress leader, Sudhir Ranjan Mazumdar, and the former underground leader, Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhal of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT).

In 2003, the Left Front won 41 seats, the Congress 13 and its ally INPT six.

The counting of ballots for the 60-member Assembly will take place on March 7.

ANI

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