The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won over 5,500 (83 per cent) of the 6,646 seats unopposed in the three-tier rural body polls of the panchayat elections in Tripura. According to the State Election Commission (SEC), the majority of the candidates of the BJP have been elected unopposed. The elections are now likely to be held for around 850-gram panchayat, 85 panchayat samiti and 80 zilla parishad seats on July 27.
"Several opposition parties including CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and Congress, did not field candidates in majority of the seats and the two parties have also withdrawn many candidatures," an official of SEC said.
The CPI(M), on the other hand, claimed that their candidates for the upcoming panchayat poll in Tripura on July 27 were being “threatened” and “attacked” by BJP “goons”. The party said during the nomination period from July 1 to 8 candidates of the CPI(M) and other opposition parties were prevented from collecting and filing nomination papers by armed gangs of the BJP.
“Bike-borne hoodlums of the BJP were stationed before the election offices, so that no opposition candidate could collect or submit nomination papers. In most of the places, the police were just onlookers.
“Physical attacks on prospective candidates and attacks on CPI(M) offices and leaders such as on the North Tripura District Committee and sub-divisional office in Dharmanagar were resorted to, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation,” a statement from the Left party said.
The party claimed in this situation 121 CPI(M) candidates were forced to withdraw their nomination papers on the last day of withdrawal—July 11.
“As a result of this terror campaign, after the last date of withdrawal, over 90 per cent of the seats in the panchayat samitis and gram panchayats have gone uncontested to the BJP,” the statement said.
The CPI(M) accused the BJP of repeating what it did in the by-elections to the three-tier panchayats held in September 2018, where in 96 per cent of the seats the BJP won uncontested.
“It may be recalled that the BJP had loudly protested the rigging of panchayat elections in West Bengal and had gone to the Supreme Court regarding the matter. It is doing precisely this in a heightened manner in Tripura under its state government.
“The Polit Bureau condemns the BJP’s authoritarian and anti-democratic tactics in Tripura which have made a travesty of the democratic exercise of panchayat elections,” it said.
Panchayat elections were scheduled to be held on July 27 in 6,646 seats of 591 gram panchayats (6,111 seats), 35 panchayat samitis (419 seats) and eight zilla parishads (116 seats).
The last date for withdrawal of candidatures was on Thursday. Counting of votes will take place on July 31. The electioneering for the local bodies had witnessed political violence and clashes during the past two weeks injuring at least 75 political leaders and workers of the ruling BJP, CPI-M and Congress.
According to the police, the pre-poll violence and clashes mainly took place in South Tripura, West Tripura, Khowai and North Tripura districts.
(With agency inputs)