Tripura election ends peacefully, 83 per cent turnout

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Agartala, Feb 23 (UNI) About 83 per cent of 20,35,877 electorate today exercised their franchise in the elections to the 60-member tenth Tripura Assembly.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Dr G S G Ayyangar said polling even continued beyond the scheduled hours in several booths of different parts of the state.

The voting percentage was roughly about 80 per cent in 2003 Assembly election and this time it is likely to touch about 90 per cent, Dr Ayyangar informed.

Barring 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.

It was for the first time that the EC conducted the Assembly election in any of the North-eastern states, using 100 per cent Photo Electoral Rolls and Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), he said.

The electoral fortunes of 313 candidates, including 31 women and 64 Independents, were decided in today's election.

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 put up 56 candidates, while its two allies, RSP and CPI contested two seats each.

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

Altogether 20,000 central paramilitary personnel along with 23,000 state police and 707 micro-observers were pressed into service in 2391 polling stations of the state to conduct the election.

The Congress expressed satisfaction over the polling process, but the CPI(M)-led ruling Left Front alleged of high-handedness by the security personnel in some polling booths Left Front spokesperson Goutam Das alleged that about 3000 voters could not exercise their franchise due to delay in conducting election process to follow all the EC instructions.

'' In most of the places voters left the booths after waiting for four-five hours and the will have to take this responsibility, '' Mr Das said.

He also alleged that a section of polling staff and security personnel helped the Opposition Congress-INPT.

On the other, Congress leaders in Tripura and AICC observer Prithiviraj Chavan expressed satisfaction over the EC management and claimed that the Congress-INPT alliance would come to power.

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