Voting ends in Tripura sans violence (Lead: Tripura polls)

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Agartala, Feb 23 : Voting for the Tripura State Assembly ended today without any reports of violence.

In the past, Tripura has witnessed 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 is going 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 the lack of it has been a key poll issue.

Sarkar brushed aside any anti-incumbency factor working against him and expressed hope about the Left coming back to power in the state.

Sarkar said that the casting of votes in the single phase elections in the remote north eastern state has 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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