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IPFT, CPM and Cong demand rescheduling of Panchayat by-poll
Prabir Sil
 AGARTALA, Sept 12 - Amidst the shadow of attacks, threats and intimidations, three major political parties including ruling coalition partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) have demanded extension of time for submission of nomination papers for Panchayat by-elections in Tripura.

The last date for filing nomination papers ended on Tuesday while scrutiny of nomination papers was done Wednesday.

Miffed over the attacks and intimidations on the party nominees and supporters allegedly by BJP workers in some areas, IPFT leaders on Wednesday held a meeting here and reviewed the overall poll scenario in presence of party supremo NC Debbarma.

After the meeting, IPFT spokesman Mangal Debbarma said the party leaders expressed concern over the way party candidates were not allowed to submit their nomination papers. “Party candidates have been able to submit nominations only in 80 Gram Panchayat seats out of total 3,207 seats. In many areas, our candidates were not allowed to file nomination papers”, he pointed out.

Debbarma said the party wants the State Election Commission (SEC) to extend date for filing of nomination papers so that IPFT nominees could submit their papers.

To a query, the IPFT spokesman said, “If the situation continues like this, the party will be compelled to rethink on maintaining alliance with BJP. We are going to talk to BJP central leadership on the issue”, he added.

Opposition CPM leader Manik Sarkar also expressed serious concern over the way things have gone till date. “CPI (M) candidates were not allowed to submit their nomination papers from September 4 to 11. They were not even allowed to enter Returning Officers’ offices. Is this a democracy? The SEC and the State Government must ensure candidates could freely submit their nomination papers”, he said at a press conference here on Wednesday.

Strongly advocating for rescheduling of Panchayat by-election, Sarkar said the SEC in consultation with the State Government must ensure those who want to contest the election must get a chance to do so. “If candidates are denied of contesting the election, then the entire by-election process will turn into a farce. I hope the government will take a realistic view on our demand for rescheduling of Panchayat by-election”, he said.

Criticising the ruling party, the Sarkar said, “Why this fear? Those who are ruling the State had got 50 per cent votes just six months ago. Let’s allow the electorate to pick their choice independently”.

TPCC president Birajit Sinha also alleged that Congress candidates were not allowed to submit their nomination papers.

SEC sources said, BJP has been able to submit nomination papers in all the 3,207 seats of Gram Panchayats while 120 Congress candidates have managed to file their nomination papers. Interestingly, only 63 IPFT candidates have managed to submit nomination papers.

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