81 per cent turnout in peaceful polling in Tripura

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Agartala, Feb 23 (UNI) An estimated 81 per cent polling was recorded in the election to 60 Assembly seats in Tripura today, which passed off more or less peacefully barring the kidnapping of a Left leader last night.

Chief Electoral Officer Dr G S G Ayyangar said polling was still on in a large number of booths and would continue till 2100 hours.

''I have already told all the Returning Officers that no voter should be turned away if they enter the polling booths before 1600 hrs,'' he added.

He said polling might continue till 2000 to 2100 hrs in most of the constituencies. In urban areas, Khayerpur registered the highest turnout, he added.

Meanwhile, excepting the kidnapping of a Left Front leader in Raimavelly of Dhalai district last night, there had been no report of any poll-related violence so far, he stated.

The electoral fortunes of 313 candidates, including 31 women and 64 Independents, are being decided by about an electorate of 20,35,877.

The aspirants included Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, ten of his Cabinet colleagues and senior Congress leaders and former Chief Ministers Samir Ranjan Barman and Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar.

Two important figures from the Congress-INPT alliance were Maharani Bibhukumari Devi and militant-turned-Legislator Bijoy Kumar Harangkhwal.

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

The CPI(M) alone has put up 56 candidates, while its two allies, RSP and CPI, would contest two seats each.

The Congress was in the fray in 47 seats and its two allies - INPT and PDS - would fight it out in eleven and two seats respectively.

Eds : Pls pick up suitably from earlier series.

UNI BB SJC VD KN1755

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