July 20, 2014
Heavy & Peaceful Polling Recorded In Panchayat Elections

Rahul Sinha

MAINTAINING its record of high percentage of polling, the people of rural Tripura exercised their democratic rights in the elections to the three tier panchayat bodies of the state, on July 15. Though the final figures are still awaited, sources in the state election commission said that the polling percentage could be around 85%. Elections were to be held in 116 seats of 8 zilla parishads, 419 seats of 35 panchayat samitis (block level) and 6111 seats of 591 gram panchayats. But CPI(M) candidates of the Left Front won unopposed in two seats of ZP, 38 seats of PS and 980 seats of GP. Again in two seats of GP, polling had to be postponed due to the demise of a candidate. Hence polling took place in 114 seats of ZP, 381 seats of PS and 5129 seats of GPs. At the same time by-polls were held for four vacant seats of three urban bodies. From early morning itself there were constant and long queues in front of the polling stations. Women in many places outnumbered the men. The enthusiasm and mood of festivity was evident as women carrying their children, octogenarian men and women braving their age came out to cast their votes to form what they call “gram sarkaar” for continuation of the process of all round development in the state in an atmosphere of peace. In a number of places in the permissible vicinity of the booths, temporary stalls of cold drinks, ice creams, fast food were set up by the local businessmen as is the practice in the state. The picture was more or less the same in all the eight districts of the state. Taking advantage of the comparatively soothing weather and no rains on that day, from Dharmanagar of North district to Sabroom of South district polling went on smoothly in 99% of the polling stations. In 5-6 booths, repoll may have to be ordered after final reports reach as printing error in ballot paper was identified, according to the state election commission sources. A youth was arrested from the Ramchandraghat school booth of Khowai block of Khowai district as he tore apart ballot papers and was caught trying to get out of the booth with torn pieces of ballot paper in his pocket. Apart from this no major untoward incident was reported. Though both INC and TMC leaders in Agartala alleged that there were large scale rigging, booth jams, false voting, intimidating voters, the local leaders of both the parties sub division level including MLA and PCC members while speaking to the press admitted that voting was peaceful. State election commission sources said no written complaint reached them. Though in some places the combined opposition of INC, TMC and BJP tried to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of polling, but by and large the voting was peaceful. Tripura Left Front committee in a statement said, despite various provocations in some places voting was peaceful everywhere. Voters in massive numbers exercised their voting rights. It thanked the voters, election staff and security forces for free fair and peaceful completion of voting. Panchayat minister of state, Manik Dey too thanked the voters, election commission and security forces for the free, fair and peaceful voting. He said, with the active participation of the voters, the tradition of polling in festive mood has yet again been maintained.