Tripura bypolls: Over 84% turnout in two Assembly segments

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

Agartala, September 5 (IANS): Over 84 per cent of the 93,495 voters on Tuesday cast their votes in the by-elections to two Assembly constituencies in Tripura -- Boxanagar and Dhanpur.

Officials said no untoward incident was reported from the two Assembly segments in Sepahijala district.

However, the CPI-M state Secretary Jitendra Choudhury claimed that due to the threats and intimidation of the ruling BJP cadres, the party’s polling agents could not operate in more than 50 per cent of the 110 polling stations in the two seats.

“There was silent rigging in both the constituencies by the BJP workers. The police and election officials overlooked this new style of intimidating the opposition voters and election agents,” Choudhury claimed.

BJP leaders, however, denied the accusations and claimed that voting took place in both the seats in a festive mood, sans any hassles.

Polling ended at 4 p.m. amid heavy security.

Men and women in large numbers queued up in front of the polling stations well before the process began at 7 a.m. In all, 93,495 voters, including 45,222 females, were eligible to cast their votes in 110 polling stations to decide the electoral fortune of eight candidates, four each in two seats.

For the first time in over five years, a direct contest is being witnessed between the ruling BJP and the opposition CPI-M-led Left Front. The Congress and the Tipra Motha Party (TMP), the other two main opposition parties in the state, had earlier announced not to field candidates in the two seats to prevent division of vote share.

The leaders of TMP headed by Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman had declared not to support the BJP or the CPI-M in the by-elections, leaving the choice to the voters and party workers.

On the other hand, Congress leaders, including state unit President Asish Kumar Saha and MLA Sudip Roy Barman, have campaigned for the CPI-M candidates.

Saha told IANS earlier that to defeat the BJP and to ensure victory for the opposition INDIA bloc, they have campaigned in both the Assembly segments for the Left nominees.

After the formation of INDIA, Tuesday’s by-elections were its first electoral battle.

The CPI-M has nominated Mizan Hossain in Boxanagar and Kaushik Chanda in Dhanpur, while the ruling BJP has fielded Taffajal Hossain in Boxanagar and Bindu Debnath in Dhanpur.

CPI-M's Mizan Hossain and BJP's Bindu Debnath are contesting elections for the first time, while Kaushik Chanda and Taffajal Hossain had contested the Assembly polls held in February this year.

In February, the Left parties and the Congress had contested the elections together with seat-sharing arrangements, while the TMP had gone solo.

The by-election in Dhanpur seat was necessitated after Union Minister Pratima Bhoumik resigned from the Assembly, days after her election from the seat as a BJP nominee.

The Muslim-dominated Boxanagar Assembly seat fell vacant after the death of sitting CPI-M MLA Samsul Haque, who died on July 19 following a cardiac attack.