Vol. XLIII No. 20 May 19, 2019

Tripura: Repoll: People Vote Despite Terror

Rahul Sinha

AS people in 59 Lok Sabha seats across the country voted to elect their candidates, a repoll in 168 booths of West Tripura parliamentary seat went off without much uproar in the mainstream media. 

However, it demanded a national headline or at least a place in the front pages of the national media. 


Reasons for this are simple and they deserve mentioning. Never before in the entire electoral history of independent India, a repoll took place after more than one month of the actual date of polling. And secondly, it is perhaps the case of highest number of booths in a single parliamentary constituency where the Election Commission of India had to order a repoll.


The polling on April 11 was marred by widespread allegations of rigging, booth capturing,  attacks on the CPI(M)'s agents and voters by the BJP, with the central armed forces being strategically kept off the duty. The Tripura Left Front committee had demanded that this polling should be countermanded and a fresh poll must be held to ensure the democratic rights of the people and the credibility of the ECI. The Congress party too had demanded a total repoll. The ECI first deferred the polling in the East Tripura seat, removed the ADG (L&O) then removed the RO of Tripura West constituency and thereby admitted that nothing had gone right on April 11. But it ignored the demand of fresh poll in the West Tripura seat which should have been the only natural and logical decision to follow and match the earlier decisions of the poll body itself. The CPI(M) candidate Sankar Prasad Datta has moved to the Supreme Court demanding a  total repoll.


The repoll too was not free from attacks and intimidations. At least 10-15 per cent voters didn’t turn up to vote as they were either threatened against voting in the previous night or obstructed on the way to the polling booths. But in a number of cases people approached the sector officers and the forces and they came forward to help. The turnout was 73.53 per cent because of these threats and  also as incidents of booth capturing and false voting were not as rampant as April 11. In some of the booths, CPI(M) polling agents were not allowed to enter or were driven away after polling had begun. 

CPI(M) state secretary Gautam Das congratulated the people who have braved all fears and threats. He said, we have participated in the repoll but will continue the legal battle for a fresh election. 



On May 13, a delegation of CPI(M) met the CEO and DGP of the state to demand an immediate halt to the widespread post poll violence in West Tripura. They demanded that the voters and the polling agents of CPI(M) must be given security and stringent action must be taken against the BJP hoodlums in different areas soon after the repoll.

The delegation consisted of CPI(M) state secretariat members Manik Dey, Ratan Bhowmik,  West Tripura district secretary Pabitra Kar and the candidate Sankar Prasad Datta. 

MP Sankar Prasad Datta in his letter to the CEO and DGP mentioned about 19 incidents in the intervening night of 12th and 13th May. Petrol bombs were hurled at the house of Tarun Datta at Dolura of Khayerpur assembly constituency. He was the polling agent of booth number 25 of that assembly segment.  In Belonia's Ishan Chandra Nagar, BJP hoodlums had beaten up a petty trader Amal Datta and closed down his shop forcibly as he and his family members went to vote defying threats. 

The CPl(M) delegation demanded that this spree of violence must be stopped immediately.