Agartala/New Delhi: Tripura on Thursday set a new record for the country's highest-ever voter turnout with 93 per cent polling in the Assembly elections which was by and large peaceful. The Left Front is hoping to return for a record fifth straight time in the elections to the 60-member Assembly in the north-eastern state with the contest being mainly between the ruling alliance and the Congress.
Tripura had a record polling of 91.22 per cent in the last Assembly polls in 2008, which was so far the highest in the country. The state has a total electorate of 23,58,493 voters.
"Though the polling percentage is still being compiled as the last vote was cast after 8.00 pm, preliminary data indicates that Tripura has recorded the highest ever percentage of 93 per cent," Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal told PTI.
Polling started at 7.00 am and continued till well beyond the 4.00 pm time for polling as people in large numbers were seen standing in long queues outside several polling stations. The last vote was cast till past 8.00 pm, poll officials said. CPI(M) had won 46 seats and CPI got one while the Congress bagged 10 seats in the last Assembly polls.
Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura got one seat and Revolutionary Socialist Party bagged two seats. In Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla said the highest voting of 99 per cent was recorded in a polling booth at Chanman JB School under Radha Kishorpur Assembly constituency in Gomati district, where 600 of the 605 voters cast their votes.
Police said that five crude bombs hidden in a bush were recovered from Bodhjungnagar area of Khayerpur constituency by a CRPF patrol. No untoward incident was reported during polls. Voting had to be stopped at Sonamura in West Tripura district and Dharmanagar in South Tripura district for some time following a technical snag in EVMs and resumed after 10 minutes after the EVMs were replaced, poll officials said.
As a measure to increase the poll percentage of employees on poll duty, the Election Commission had made special arrangement for recording postal ballot at the polling stations itself.
Shukla said this is the first time such "facilitation" for postal ballot was made by ECI. "This helped in recording 95.6 per cent polling through postal ballot of employees on poll duty," he said, adding that a total of 46,000 employees were deputed on poll duty.
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar cast his vote at a booth in Umakanta School in Ramnagar constituency represented by him. Manik Sarkar, Finance Minister Badal Chowdhury, Higher Education minister Anil Sarkar, TPCC president Sudip Ray Barman, former chief minister Samir Ranjan Burman and President of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura Bijay Hrankhwal were among 249 candidates from 16 political parties whose fate was sealed in the EVMs.
CPI-M, the dominant partner in the LF, contested 55 seats, RSP two and CPI two and Forward Bloc one. Congress contested 48 seats and its alliance partners INPT in 11 and National Conference of Tripura in one. 250 companies of central paramilitary forces were deployed to maintain law and order. The BSF had sealed the 856 km-long border with Bangladesh and deployed additional forces to prevent infiltration.
A total of 30 general observers, 10 expenditure observers, eight awareness observers and eight police observers were appointed for ensuring the conduct of smooth and fair elections in the state.