New Delhi, Feb 18: Security has been tightened up near the Indo-Bangladesh border as polling began in 59 of 60 Assembly seats in Tripura on Sunday. Three hundred companies of central armed forces have been deployed across the state along with state armed personnel and the police. The BSF is also keeping close vigil along the 856 km long Indo-Bangladesh border. Apart from that Director General of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) R K Pachnanda has been appointed special observer to coordinate the security forces on election duty.
The state is witnessing a direct battle between the Communist Party (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The CPM is looking to retain its power whereas the BJP is giving them a tough fight by catching on tribal votes. BJP’s slogan of ‘chalo paltai’ (let’s change) has become a tagline across the northeast.
In Tripura, Tribals make up 31 per cent of the population, which has a large number of Bengali speaking population. Twenty seats have been reserved for the scheduled tribes.
In last two months, the BJP had held a high-voltage campaign in the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing as many as four rallies in the state. BJP president Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were among other heavyweight leaders of the saffron party to take part in the campaign.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar who is running for his fifth term led the CPI(M)’s campaign addressing around 50 rallies in last two weeks. Other Left leaders like Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury lend support to the party’s campaign.
The BJP which has formed an alliance with tribal outfit Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) has fielded 51 candidates. IPFT will contest in the remaining nine seats. Meanwhile, the Congress is going alone on all 59 seats. The party has not fielded any candidate for Kakrobon constituency in Gomati district.
Notably, polling is being held for 59 of the 60 assembly seats today as election in Charilam was postponed after the death of CPM candidate Ramendra Narayan Debbarma. It will be held on March 12.
Counting of votes will take place on March 3.