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Published On: Sun, Feb 18th, 2018

Country’s grand old Congress party will be looser in Tripura

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62651572AGARTALA :The total voter turnout stood at 74 per cent in the single-phase Tripura Assembly polls today, 17 per cent less than the last Assembly election when the polling percentage was recorded at 91.82.
Polling in Tripura started at 7 a.m. Over 25 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. The election is taking place in 59 constituencies after the poll was countermanded at Charilam (ST) constituency due to the death of CPI(M) candidate.

Situation in the morning was peaceful after sporadic incidents of violence were reported on Saturday night. A total of 292 candidates are in the fray in 59 Assembly segments.Chief Minister Manik Sarkar casts his vote at Umakanta English Medium School at Agartala at 9.40 a.m.
Election has been “peaceful” barring a few minor incidents. About 78.56 per cent voters turn out been recorded till now said Tripura CEO Sriram Taranikanti. There have been 191 EVMs replacement during the day. Due to the snags in EVMs polling has been delayed.

2003 election percentage was 78.71. The 2008 polling figure was 91.22% and in 2013 it was 91.82%. 76% voter turnout until 5 p.m. There has been a 2% rise in turnout with about 76% voting till 5:00 p.m. Tapas Ray, Tripura additional CEO said that there “should be an increase in percentage” after final figure is added. Numbers are expected to be added by 9:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, Pulin Bardhan, Chief Election Agent of CPI(M) candidate Keshab Debbarma in 17- Golaghati constituency under Sepahijala district is critically wounded in an alleged attack by IPFT supporters. He is admitted at G.B.P. Hospital in Agartala.

Central paramilitary force resorted to baton charge to disperse clashing supporters of CPI(M) and BJP at Kadamtala in North Tripura District. Two people injured. Harekrishna Bhowmik, Chief Spokesperson of Tripura Pradesh Congress, demanded high level probe into ‘252 incidents of EVM malfunctioning’ during the day.

The BSF was asked to keep a close vigil on the 856-km-long India-Bangladesh border in Tripura and 300 companies of the Central armed forces, along with the State armed personnel and police, were deployed across the State to ensure a free-and-fair election, he added.
Counting of votes would be taken up on March 3 and the voting for Charilam constituency will be conducted on March 12, sources in the election office said Voters were seen queuing up at polling stations across the state since morning. In hilly and tribal areas, women huddled in large numbers outside poll booths in their colourful traditional attires.
In all, 2,536,589 people, including 1,250,128 women and 47,803 first-time voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 292 candidates, including 23 women and many independents.
Political experts say the campaign for Mandate 2018 has been the most intense since 1988 when the Congress, in alliance with a tribal party, wrested power from the Left Front. But the Communists were back in 1993 and ruled for five successive terms riding on Chief Minister Manik Sarkar’s image of one of India’s cleanest politicians.

The BJP has been focussed on Tripura since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it bagged only 5.7% of the votes. In the 2013 Assembly elections, the party’s vote share was only 1.5% compared to the 48.11% the CPI(M) and its communist allies had polled. The Congress polled 36.53% votes in 2013.
This time round, not just all major Delhi-NCR-based news channels, newspapers and portals but quite a few from other states and international media houses have mobilised their correspondents to send as many election dispatches as possible from the north-eastern state.
It is not difficult to see why. This tiny state with only 25.05 lakh voters can actually be the harbinger of hope for the 2019 general elections – both for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), facing an electorate not so overwhelmingly open to it as it was in 2014, and a united opposition, which plans to take on the Modi Sarkar, riding on its growing anti-incumbency.
On March 3, when the results of an election, which saw an unprecedented use of money, manpower, social media and violence, are announced, either the BJP or the CPI (M) would come up trumps. However, none of these would be the real losers. By the standards of electoral politics, it will certainly be the country’s grand old party, the Congress.
The party, which in the 2013 assembly elections, had a 36.53 per cent share of valid votes polled in the state to win 10 seats out of the 60 assembly seats, is likely to slip to the third position for the first time in the state’s history.
In fact, it is common knowledge now that BJP, whose best show so far has been it recently winning  three of the 591 of the state’s gram panchayats, has succeeded in challenging a well-entrenched CPI(M) only because there has always been a formidable Congress voter base in the state.
Having aggressively farmed on that base, it now hopes that the entire anti-Left vote share (it was 48% of the opposition in total against the Left Front’s 52% in the 2013 assembly polls) comes under the umbrella of the BJP-IPFT (Its poll partner, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) and help it grab not just the state for the first time but tame its biggest enemy – the Left – in a straight fight.(With Agency Inputs ).



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