TMC to move SC over violence in Tripura polls
Agartala: Amid allegations of political violence by Opposition camps, an estimated 75.04 per cent of over 4.93 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 4 pm for elections to Tripura's 14 civic bodies on Thursday.
The Trinamool Congress said the polls were "reduced to a mockery" and added that they would seek the Election Commission's intervention and move the Supreme Court on Friday to countermand the elections since "voters' rights were blatantly scuttled".
Mass scale rigging, intimidation of voters and booth jamming marred the Agartala municipal elections. TMC had fielded candidates in all the 51 seats. TMC and CPI(M) desperately staged demonstrations to protest against the indifference of the police and the administration.
Rajib Banerjee, TMC spokesperson in Tripura, said party candidates and their relatives were beaten up. BJP goons went to different areas and threatened people not to come out of their houses to vote. The police worked on behalf of the BJP workers, asking people not to come of their houses risking their lives, he alleged. He said BJP was suffering from fear psychosis and hence had resorted to unprecedented violence. He added that more than 100 complaints had been made but neither the police nor the Election Commission took cognizance.
The party claimed that all polling agents were thrown out from Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) ward number 21, while "BJP goons" were not letting voters enter the booth in ward number 41. The workers from Mamata Banerjee-led party further alleged that their Ambassa candidate was assaulted, house of the contender from ward 5 was attacked by "BJP bike vahinis".
Sanhita Banerjee, an AITC candidate, alleged that the husband of a BJP candidate threatened them openly. Sanhita said he is the husband of BJP candidate of ward 40, Sampa Sarkar Chowdhury. But the police have not been able to confirm any untoward incidents. CPI(M) state secretary Jiten Chaudhary also alleged that the ruling party was indulging in voter intimidation in South Tripura district and obstructing party workers from functioning freely. The ruling BJP denied these allegations.
Tapan Biswas, the Trinamool candidate in ward 51, was badly beaten up. He received an injury on the left eye and will be brought to Kolkata for treatment. BJP workers went on a rampage at Sonamura, Dharmanagar, Teliamura and Ambassa where the temporary camp offices of the opposition parties were destroyed. Allegations of false voting had been made from wards 8, 10 and 51.
CPI(M) leaders and workers gheraoed West Agartala police station demanding arrest of those involved in rigging and violence.
During the day, TMC leader Subal Bhowmik along with party workers staged a sit-in here, accusing the State Election Commission of favouring the ruling BJP. He was also arrested briefly.
He alleged that booth jamming and other intimidatory tactics were used to prevent voters from exercising their franchise.
"People's verdict will not be reflected when the results are announced. Unfair means were used to conduct the voting process. The police and election commission officials sided with the ruling party," he told reporters.
Bhowmik, who is also the state convener of the TMC steering committee, further said: "Residences of several TMC candidates were attacked last (Wednesday) night and attempts were made to set their houses on fire. At least five party members were attacked and many supporters were prevented from casting their votes. The police simply stood by as silent spectators."
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to provide two additional companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to secure the polling booths during the Tripura municipal polls.
The opposition Trinamool Congress (TMC) and CPI(M) in the state told a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath that since the polling started in the morning, its candidates and supporters have not been allegedly allowed to cast their votes and there is a serious breach of law and order.
The bench said: "In the circumstances, we direct that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to provide additional two companies of any CAPF as expeditiously as possible having due regard to the fact that polling has already commenced and in order to secure the polling booths so that polling can take place without any disturbance or dislocation."
The top court was hearing a plea of TMC and intervention application of CPI(M) seeking direction to the Tripura government and other officials for ensuring free and fair elections.
The bench also directed the DGP and Tripura Home Secretary to immediately review the security arrangements during the municipal polls and make requisition to MHA for additional CAPF, if required.
The Director-General of Police and Secretary in the Department of Home Affairs of the State of Tripura shall immediately review if there is any additional requirement of further deployment, over and above the above direction and if so, communicate it to the Department of Home Affairs of the Government of India for necessary action. Any such request having due regard to the statement made by the Solicitor General shall be duly considered, the bench said.