Tripura sets record for maximum voter turnout in country

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Agartala, Feb 25 (UNI) Tripura has set an unprecedented record in the electoral history of the country in respect of voter turnout with 91.86 per cent recorded for the Assembly elections held on February 23.

An official report here today stated that the percentage of voting in the tenth Tripura Assembly elections was as high as any other poll held in India so far and a number of polling booths in various parts of the state had even recorded 99 per cent casting in quite a peaceful atmosphere.

Talking to newspersons here, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Dr G S G Ayyangar said the recent elections had emerged as a model for the country in both electoral management and voter turnout.

''According to official records, during the 2002 elections to the Sikkim Assembly, the percentage of casting recorded was roughly about 86 per cent, which had beaten Tripura's record in the 1988 elections. However, this time we have once again obtained the top position by conducting election in smooth manner,'' Dr Ayyangar said.

He said constituency-wise, the highest percentage of votes recorded in the February 23 elections was recorded at 95.69 per cent in Birganj of South Tripura while the lowest was recorded at 86.17 per cent in Kanchanpur of North Tripura. Besides, 47 Assembly constituencies, out of total 60, recorded more than 90 per cent voting this time.

''Another important feature of the elections this time was polling by cent per cent Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPICs) and violence-free elections, which is also unprecedented in any other state or any other Lok Sabha elections in the country,'' Dr Ayyangar underlined.

As the poll frenzy among voters and tight security left no space for the party activists to gather around and jam the booths, the polling continued even till late 2330 hrs, which was again a record, he said, adding that there was by and large no reports of intimidations at least during the elections and there was no shadow of militant activities.

A general atmosphere of peace and tranquility prevailed as the electorate, including women in rural areas, also did not mind waiting in the long queues even after sunset. They continued to remain seated until their turn came late at night, Dr Ayyangar pointed out.

Polling was indeed unprecedented in all senses. The turnout in 2003 was 78.62 per cent but there was no such palpable enthusiasm among the voters because of militant threats at some constituencies which prevented the people from exercising their franchise.

One of the main reasons for the voters' enthusiastic response was attributed to peaceful atmosphere without any major militant threats and conspicuous absence of party activists crowding around and jamming the booths, the CEO stated.

The voter turnout in 1988 was 85.75 per cent, while in 1993 it was 81.18 per cent and in 1998 it was 80.84 per cent while in 2003 79.62 per cent, Dr Ayyangar informed, claiming that the huge turnout was only because people had become politically more conscious.

Altogether 20,36,980 voters, including 9,96,582 female, decided the fate of 313 candidates, including 31 women, from 14 recognised political parties and 64 Independent candidates in the February 23 elections where more than 43,000 paramilitary forces, besides 707 micro-observers and 60 observers were appointed to ensure free and fair voting.

The counting is scheduled to be held on March 7 after the Meghalaya and Nagaland Assembly elections on March 3 and 5 respectively.

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