Agartala: Putting up a remarkable show, the BJP and its alliance partner, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, surged ahead of the ruling CPI-M-led Left Front in the counting of votes for the 59 assembly constituencies in Tripura on Saturday.
Polling has been countermanded in one constituency of the 60-strong assembly following the death of a CPI-M candidate a week before the February 18 polls.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) spearheaded LF, which has been ruling the Northeastern state uninterruptedly for the past 25 years, is leading in 16 of the 40 seats for which trend is available.
The Bharatiya Janata Party candidates are leading in 19 seats, while nominees of the tribal-based party (IPFT) are occupying poll position in five constituencies after the first round of counting of votes.
The BJP had got only around 1.5 per cent votes in the assembly election five years back.
Sitting CPI-M legislator and Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma (Asharambari constituency), Deputy Speaker of the Tripura assembly Pabitra Kar (Khayerpur), Samiran Malakar (Pabiachara), Manoranjan Debbarma (Mandai Bazar), Ratan Das (Ramnagar), Manindra Chandra Das (Kalyanpur-Promodnagar) are among the notable Left candidates who are trailing.
Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo member Manik Sarkar (Dhanpur constituency), Health and PWD Minister Badal Choudhury (Hrishamukh), Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty (Chandipur), BJP President Biplab Kumar Deb (Banamalipur), BJP nominees Sudip Roy Barman (Agartala), Ratanlal Nath (Mohanpur) are leading over their rival candidates.
A three-tier security is in place in 20 locations across the state where 59 counting halls have been set up. Counting of votes are progressing simultaneously for all the 59 constituencies.
Prohibitory orders under 144 CrPc has been promulgated in and around all the locations as a precautionary measure.
“Huge numbers of central para-military force and state security forces have been deployed to tackle any disturbances during the process,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Tapas Roy told IANS.
Metal detectors and six CCTVs in each counting hall were installed while videography is being done to record the entire counting process, he said.
The Election Commission has appointed 47 general observers and eight police observers to oversee the counting process.
A total of 290 candidates, including 23 women of the ruling CPI-M, Communist Party of India, BJP and Congress and many independents, are in the fray.
Balloting in Charilam (reserved for the tribals) has been deferred to March 12 after CPI-M candidate Ramendra Narayan Debbarma died a week before the polls.
Over 92 per cent (excluding 50,700 postal ballots) of Tripura’s 2,536,589 voters cast their votes on February 18 in a peaceful election, setting a new record in India’s electoral history.