Polling underway in Tripura, Left confident of winning again

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Agartala, Feb 14: Voting for Tripura assembly elections began at 7 am on Thursday amid tight security. Over 23 lakh voters will cast their votes to decide the fate of 249 candidates, including 15 women, in the polls. Nearly half of the electorate are women while 20 out of the 60 assembly seats are reserved for the tribals while 10 for the Scheduled Castes. The polling will continue till 4 pm.

Tripura's chief electoral officer Ashutosh Jindal said of the 3,041 polling stations, 32 are hypersensitive while 112 are sensitive.

A record 40,000 paramilitary and other security personnel have been deployed for the elections. Two air surveillance teams were also monitoring the situation on ground. About 18,000 polling officials, including four teams of polling personnel comprising women members only, were deployed to conduct the polls. The EC also appointed over 2,000 micro-observers to assist the observers to oversee the polling.

The Election Commission (EC) has dispatched specially modified electronic voting machines in all polling stations to check malpractice, an IANS report said.

The polls will mainly be a two-way fight between the ruling Left Front and the Opposition Congress. The Left is ruling the state, their last remaining bastion in the country, for 20 years at a stretch now after the Congress was unseated in 1993. Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who had replaced Dasarath Deb in 1998, will be seeking his fourth mandate.

The CPI(M) had won 42 seats in the previous election while the CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP won a total of seven seats. The Congress had managed just 10 seats.

The Left Front, looking to form its seventh government, is optimistic of winning this time as well.  Sarkar said one should not be surprised if they win all 60 seats. He said the people of Tripura will vote for them to give a chance to peace and development.

On the other hand, the Congress, plagued by serious internal squabble, said the people of Tripura were fed up with the Left and will look for a change this time. Party vice-chairman Rahul Gandhi, who campaigned in the state earlier this week, asked the people to boot out the CPI(M) from India.

Apart from CM Sarkar and his 11 cabinet members, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Samir Ranjan Burman, his son and state Congress president Sudip Roy Barman, opposition leader Ratan Lal Nath, Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) president and former militant leader Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl are among the high-profile candidates in this year's selection.

The Trinamool Congress hasn't fielded any candidates in the election.

OneIndia News

(With IANS inputs)

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