Agartala: Polling in the Tripura assembly election began on a peaceful note at 7 am today (February 18) amid massive security arrangements.
Voting is being held in 59 of the total 60 seats due to the death of the CPI(M) candidate for the Charilam constituency, Ramendra Narayan Deb Barma, six days ago. The Charilam constituency will go to polls on March 12.
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.
Small-time shopkeepers were seen doing brisk business selling tea and snacks to the voters.
Voting will end at 4 pm in all the 3,214 polling stations in the state, election office sources said.
Altogether 307 candidates are in the fray with the CPI(M), the major partner of the ruling Left Front, contesting 56 seats and its constituents – RSP, Forward Bloc and CPI – one seat each.
The BJP, which forged a pre-poll alliance with tribal outfit Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), has fielded 51 candidates. The IPFT, an anti-Left party, will contest the remaining nine.
The Congress is going it alone in Tripura this time and is contesting 59 seats. The party has not fielded any candidate from Kakrabon constituency in Gomati district.
Altogether, there are 25,73,413 registered voters, of whom 13,05,375 are male and 12,68,027 female.
The number of voters under the third gender category in the state is 11 and that of the new voters is 47,803.
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Twenty seats are reserved for the scheduled tribes.
State director general of police Akhil Kumar Shukla said security measures are in place across Tripura to ensure free and fair polls.
He said 300 companies of central armed forces have been deployed along with state armed personnel and police, while BSF is keeping keep a close vigil along the 856-km-long India-Bangladesh border in Tripura, he added.
Tripura chief electoral officer Sriram Taranikanti said the Election Commission has appointed police observers, general observers and expenditure observers to ensure hassle-free polls.
The director general of Indo-Tibetan Border Police, R. K. Pachnanda, has been appointed as a special observer to coordinate with the security forces deployed in the state.
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.