Election officials reported 91.5 per cent polling in the Assembly election in Tripura on Thursday. The election, held amid massive security, was peaceful, except for a few minor incidents. Snags in the electronic voting machines slowed down polling in some areas. Election Department officials said the turnout might increase when votes cast in 3,041 more polling stations were counted. Tripura has a history of high polling — in 2008, the turnout was 91.32 per cent.
Election officials were busy conducting voting at the Chandrapur polling centre, near Agartala, late into the night after a snag in a voting machine delayed polling. Fifty-eight per cent of the votes were cast till 1 p.m., and long queues were seen outside polling centres in towns, villages and remote tribal localities.
Some of the constituencies however saw a low turnout. Chandipur in north Tripura recorded its lowest polling ever — 49 per cent. Boxnagar in west Tripura, just off the border with Bangladesh, recorded polling as high as 94 per cent.
As many as 23.55 lakh people, including 54,000 new voters, were eligible to vote. There are 60 seats and 249 candidates, 14 of them women. The main contest is between the ruling Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and an alliance of the Congress and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra. Massive security arrangements were in place for the elections.
CPI(M) State secretary Bijan Dhar and Congress State chief Sudip Roy Burman said their respective alliance would win. They appealed to the supporters of their respective parties to maintain peace till results are out on February 28.
The Congress candidate in Dhanpur, Shah Alam, alleged that some elements lobbed a bomb at his vehicle. The Election Commission has ordered an investigation into the incident in the constituency, where Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is seeking election for a fourth consecutive term.
The commission has instituted an inquiry against two poll officials who allegedly broke the security seal of a voting machine at Asharambari in Khowai of West Tripura. The police detained a sector officer of the Election Department for unauthorised possession of a voting machine at Charilam in west Tripura.
In another incident, a Central Reserve Police Force contingent recovered five grenades at R.K. Nagar, near Agartala, around noon. Khayerpur, near Agartala, remained tense after clashes between CPI(M) and Congress supporters over the past few days . Four people were injured in a clash between two groups in the Majsilishpur constituency in west Tripura.