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Trinamool, CPM demand Tripura civic polls be countermanded, claim voting process rigged


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Chennai:

AGARTALA: Claiming that widespread rigging and other malpractices were carried out during the civic body elections held on Thursday, the Opposition CPI(M) and the TMC demanded that the polls be countermanded.

An estimated 75.04 per cent of over 4.93 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 4 pm for elections to Tripura's 14 civic bodies, according to officials of the State Election Commission (SEC).

The officials also said that no clash or voting machine-related problem was reported from the poll-bound areas.

Members of the two opposition parties, however, alleged that were attacked and stopped from casting their votes by "BJP-sheltered goons".

TMC leader Subal Bhowmik, who staged a sit-in here with other party workers, accused the State Election Commission of favouring the ruling BJP.

He emphasised that the entire election should be countermanded as "booth jamming and other intimidatory tactics" were used to prevent voters from exercising their franchise.

"People's verdict will not be reflected when the results are announced. Unfair means were used to conduct the voting process. The police and election commission officials sided with the ruling party, so we demand that the entire election be countermanded," he told reporters.

Bhowmik, who is also the state convener of the TMC steering committee, further said, "Residences of several TMC candidates were attacked last (Wednesday) night and attempts were made to set their houses on fire. At least five party members were attacked and many supporters were prevented from casting their votes. The police simply stood by as silent spectators."

Echoing him, leaders of the opposition CPI(M) also said that polls were rigged by "BJP-sheltered goons".

Tripura Left Front convener Narayan Kar said security forces were not mobilised properly, despite directions to that end by the Supreme Court.

The Left Front sought fresh polls in Agartala Municipal Corporation and four municipal councils -- Dharmanagar, Khowai, Belonia and Melaghar.

"The state election commission and the police totally surrendered before the ruling party. The DGP is a black sheep, as under his leadership, elections were blatantly rigged with no regard for the directives of the Supreme Court," Kar said.

CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chowdhury alleged that the voting process was reduced to a "farce".

"I have never witnessed such mayhem during civic elections. Despite lodging several complaints with the SEC, no measure was taken to hold free and fair elections," Chowdhury told reporters.

Another woman leader of the CPI(M), Phulon Bhattacharjee, said voters were threatened of consequences if found entering the polling booths.

"In my long political career, I have never seen such anarchy. Voters are being openly threatened," she exclaimed.

The ruling BJP, however, denied all allegations.

"The TMC and the CPI (M) are making baseless allegations as they know well that they would be defeated. Elections were held in a festive spirit," BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya stated.

The saffron party has already won 112 of total 334 seats uncontested in Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) and 19 other civic bodies in the state.

Polling was held in 222 seats across six nagar panchayats, seven municipal councils and AMC.

Votes will be counted on November 28.

The Supreme Court had on Thursday directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to provide two additional companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to secure the polling booths during the Tripura civic polls.