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Opposition Fares Dismally in 'Rigged' Tripura Civic Polls

This is not the first time the state is witnessing pre-poll violence and 'rigging' on election day, something which was witnessed two years ago during the Panchayat elections as well.
Tripura

Kolkata/Agartala: Opposition Left Front and Trinamool Congress secured 79,586 and 66,388 votes, respectively, in the just concluded civic body polls where allegedly widespread poll rigging took place at the behest of the ruling BJP.

The 19.99% and the 16.68% of votes polled by the Left Front and TMC, the main opposition parties in the state, were much less than the 2,38,962 votes or 60% votes that the ruling BJP has secured in these polls.

tripura elections

The chart reflects an abnormal voting pattern where the BJP has occupied 99% of the wards. In a democratic election, this is an extremely rare occurrence, opposition parties of Tripura alleged on Sunday after the poll results were out.

Tripura, on November 25, saw a dubious civic polls witnessed in decades as BJP hooligans allegedly took over control of the areas where the civic polls were being held. Women voters were particularly debarred from voting by the saffron party activists. The urban area municipal polls have an estimated 5.94 lakh voters.

Though reports of violence and mob take over of polling booths were reported from many of the wards, the state election commission secretary Prasenjit Bhattacharya said that "All is well, and no complaint of voting irregularity has so far come."

Till 11 AM, only about 22% of the voters dared to go to polling booths, according to reports, and after 11 AM, most of the wards were taken over by armed hooligans, as per sources.

Traditionally in the urban areas, the voting share of Left parties has always been less than that of the other right-wing parties. However, they had always secured more than 40% votes in the urban elections every time except in 1988 and 1992 when too there was election rigging.

This time the Left parties were prevented from filling up their candidature in 7 urban body wards. The majority of the polling agents of the Left parties in the Agartala municipal corporation had to be withdrawn in the early hours of November 25. In four other municipalities also this phenomenon was witnessed as rigging happened in all the wards where election was held.

Armed hooligans and motorcycle gangs took control over the urban areas where elections were held from the morning itself.

The Agartala municipal corporation now has no opposition councillors in all its 51 wards.

Withstanding the rigging, however, the Left has managed to win three seats: one each in Panisagar, Ambassa and Kailashsahar

Left front convenor Narayan Kar in a press release, has called for more activism in the coming days to take Tripura out of the perpetual state of terror it finds itself in, and has noted that the right to vote has been seriously curtailed in the state with the connivance of the ruling party, police, administration, and the state election commission.

CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury has said that "In the last 44 months in the state political terror has set in. In the civic polls, the trio of state election commission, state police and administration, and the ruling party have charted a course of vote loot which has been reflected today in the counting process."

"In these elections, the real mood of the urban electorate of the Tripura has not been reflected," Chaudhury added. "This election will be marked as a black spot in the history of elections of Tripura. The onus is to build up a more solid movement to bring back the state out from the darkness."

He went on further that "On one side, people have not been able to vote without fear, not only at Agartala and five other municipalities where we had demanded countermanding of elections, but also at the other municipalities where the law and order situation was not conducive for polls. People there had voted, fighting all the odds."

TMC has fared well only in a few wards where elections were held.

"In 1988 and 1992 too this type of elections were held in the state under Congress leader Santoshmohan Deb and over 300 left activists were murdered then. The leftists fought and defeated the semi-fascist terror at that time, and taking cue from that fight, and with that experience, BJP will be defeated. Though they created ruckus during the election, still the Left front polled votes, and in some places,, if the TMC had not come in the way, then the leftists would have won. They cannot reduce us to zero seats, no matter how well they try," Jitendra Chaudhury said on Sunday while briefing the media after the elections.

On CM Biplab Deb's comment that the saffron party sweeping the polls was a win for the people, the veteran Communist leader said, "The victory is of the forces which is not conducive to a democracy. The death warrant of democracy has been signed by the present chief minister of the state."

TERROR BUILDUP PRIOR TO THE ELECTIONS

It can be recalled that before the municipal election, after coming to office in the state in 2018, BJP leaders had allegedly forced all the opposition councillors and panchayat functionaries to resign at gunpoint, thus controlling the municipalities for more than one year. When the panchayat elections were held in 2019, over 93% of seats went unopposed as opposition leftists were forced out of the fray by gun trotting right-wing activists. In this election too, opposition candidates were forced out of the fray in 7 municipal bodies, including Udaipur and Bishal Garh and elections that did take place were rigged in 13 municipal bodies.

With inputs from Rahul Sinha, senior journalist at Desher Katha.

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