Tripura civic polls: 75.04% turnout recorded till 4 pm, oppn parties cry electoral fraud

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AGARTALA, Nov 25 (PTI) An estimated 75.04 per cent of over 4.93 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 4 pm for elections to Tripura’s 14 civic bodies on Thursday amid allegations of political violence by opposition camps.
Officials in the State Election Commission (SEC), however, said no clash or voting machine-related problem was reported from the poll-bound areas.
Polling began at 7 am and continued beyond 4 pm, as electors stood in long queues outside voting booths, the officials said, adding that the turnout is set to increase by the end of the day.
Members of opposition TMC and the CPI(M) claimed that their workers and supporters were attacked and stopped from casting their votes.
During the day, TMC leader Subal Bhowmik along with party workers staged a sit-in here, accusing the State Election Commission of favouring the ruling BJP.
He alleged that booth jamming and other intimidatory tactics were used to prevent voters from exercising their franchise.
“People’s verdict will not be reflected when the results are announced. Unfair means were used to conduct the voting process. The police and election commission officials sided with the ruling party,” he told reporters.
Bhowmik, who is also the state convener of the TMC steering committee, further said, “Residences of several TMC candidates were attacked last (Wednesday) night and attempts were made to set their houses on fire. At least five party members were attacked and many supporters were prevented from casting their votes. The police simply stood by as silent spectators.”
Echoing him, leaders of the opposition CPI(M) also said that polls were rigged by “BJP-sheltered goons”.
CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chowdhury alleged that the voting process was reduced to a “farce”.
“I have never witnessed such mayhem during civic elections. Despite lodging several complaints with the SEC, no measure was taken to hold free and fair elections,” Chowdhury told reporters.
Another woman leader of the CPI(M), Phulon Bhattacharjee, said voters were threatened of consequences if found entering the polling booths.
“In my long political career, I have never seen such anarchy. Voters are being openly threatened…” she exclaimed.
The ruling BJP, however, denied all allegations.

“The TMC and the CPI (M) are making baseless allegations as they know well that they would be defeated. Elections were held in a festive spirit,” BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya stated.
The saffron party has already won 112 of total 334 seats uncontested in Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) and 19 other civic bodies in the state.
Polling is being held in 222 seats across six nagar panchayats, seven municipal councils and AMC. Counting of votes will be held on November 28.
The Supreme Court had on Thursday directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to provide two additional companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to secure the polling booths during the Tripura civic polls.

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