Agartala, February 17: Tripura, the first of the three Northeast states going to polls today, will witness a direct battle between the Communist Party (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The polling in Tripura will start at 7 am and will end at 4 pm. Also Read - Pragya Thakur Not in Good Health, Develops Swelling in Brain, Lost Visibility in One of Her Eyes

In Tripura, polling will be held in 59 of the total 60 seats. Voting in Charilam Assembly constituency would be held on March 12 due to the death of the CPI(M) candidate for the seat, Ramendra Narayan Deb Barma, five days ago. Also Read - BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra Hospitalised With COVID-19 Symptoms

In this state assembly election, 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. Also Read - Sonia Gandhi Laments Plight of Migrants Amid Lockdown, Accuses Centre of Turning Deaf Ears to Their Pain

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.

Altogether, 307 candidates are in the fray. Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed a rally on the last day of campaigning.

The CPI(M) is contesting on 57 seats and other Left Front, the RSP, Forward Bloc and CPI, in one seat each.

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.

This time the Congress s going alone on all 59 seats. The party has not fielded any candidate for Kakrobon constituency in Gomati district.

There are 25,73,413 electorate, of whom 13,05,375 are males and 12,68,027 women while the number of third gender voters is 11. There are 47,803 new voters this time.

Voting would be held between 7 am and 4 pm tomorrow at 3,214 polling stations of which 47 would be managed by women, election office sources said.

Three hundred companies of central armed forces have been deployed across the state along with state armed personnel and the police, he said, adding the BSF is keeping keep close vigil along the 856 km long Indo-Bangladesh border in the state.

Counting of votes will take place on March 3, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Debashish Modok said.

(With input from agencies)