Over 75 per cent of the 2,536,589 voters in Left-ruled Tripura exercised their franchise in a peaceful manner to elect a new Assembly on Sunday even as a large number were still standing in queues at the end of official voting hours.
Election officials said both men and women, including new voters, had queued up in large numbers outside polling booths across Tripura even before polling began at 7 a.m.
A total of 292 candidates, including 23 women and many independents, are in the fray. Counting of votes will take place on March 3.
“Over 75 per cent electorate had cast their votes till 4 p.m. Though the pre-scheduled voting hours ended at 4 p.m, a huge numbers of voters were still in queues at a large number of polling stations across the state,” an Election official said.
The official said snags in EVM attached with VVPAT were reported from around 180 polling stations, resulting in slow balloting.
Voters, candidates and leaders of all political parties expressed anger over the malfunctioning EVMs-VVPATs.
In the 2013 and 2008 Assembly polls, Tripura witnessed record balloting at 92 and 91 per cent respectively.
“The Election Commission put up specially modified EVMs attached with VVPATs at all 3,174 polling stations. We replaced or rectified faulty EVM-VVPATs and voting resumed in those polling stations afterwards,” said an official.
“Voting was entirely peaceful and incident-free. A large number of electorate, including women, are still standing in queues at hundreds of polling stations. The voters who entered the polling station complex before 4 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot even till late night.”
Balloting was held in 59 of the 60 Assembly constituencies.
Of the 3,174 polling stations, a total of 47 were totally handled by women personnel. In all, 2,536,589 people, including 1,250,128 women and 47,803 first-time voters, were eligible to vote.
The ruling CPI-M fielded 56 candidates, leaving one seat each to its Left Front partners Communist Party of India, Forward Bloc, and Revolutionary Socialist Party.
In India’s 65-year-old electoral history, the CPI-M has never before come in direct confrontation with the BJP.
Tripura became a full-fledged state in January 1972 along with Meghalaya and Manipur.
The CPI-M dominated Left Front has been in power since 1978, except for 11 years (1972-1977 and 1988-1993) when the Congress and a breakaway faction led by five Chief Ministers were at the helm in the state.
The CPI-M led Left Front has ruled the north-eastern state since 1993 under Chief Ministers Dasaratha Deb (1993-1998) and Manik Sarkar (1998-2018).