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79% voter turnout recorded in Tripura bypoll

Women voters queuing to cast their votes at a polling station on the outskirts of Agartala on Monday. – UB Photos
 AGARTALA, Sept 23 - The bye-election to the Badharghat Assembly constituency in Tripura on Monday passed off peacefully, barring a few minor incidents. An average voter turnout of 79.29 per cent was recorded in all the 71 polling booths till filing of this report. Counting of votes will take place on Friday.

Polling began at 7 am, with voters lining up in the shadow of fear as there was a looming threat of violence and forcible prevention of voters from casting their votes. Polling continued at a moderate rate throughout the day amid tight security. At 11 am, the voting percentage was 35.5 per cent, which rose to 52.35 per cent at 1 pm before touching 68.05 per cent at 3 pm, a source at the CEO office said.

Intervention by police and paramilitary forces helped voters in Gajaria, Belabor, Ashwini market areas to reach their polling booths despite attempts to prevent them from casting their votes.

Congress leader Subal Bhowmik alleged that BJP MLA Surajit Dutta, BJP Mahila Morcha leader Papiya Dutta and the party’s youth leader Vicky Prasad tried to illegally trespass into a polling booth but they were forced out by the Congress and CPI(M) workers.

“We are hopeful of winning the seat with a convincing margin despite provocation by the opposition parties. Our party congratulates the voters, officials and security personnel for ensuring a peaceful bye-election,” BJP general secretary Rajib Bhattacharjee said.

The opposition Congress also seemed to be happy at the way the Election Commission conducted the polling. “Since the 2018 Assembly elections, questions were raised over the role of the Election Commission, but this time we could feel the presence of the poll panel on the ground. Attempts to capture booths were foiled by security personnel. We are expecting a positive outcome,” former Congress MLA Subal Bhowmik said at a press conference at Congress Bhavan in Agartala.

The bye-election to Badharghat assembly constituency, reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates, was necessitated following the death of BJP MLA Dilip Sarkar in April this year.

IANS adds: Tapan Kumar Das, Additional District Magistrate of West Tripura district, said the final polling percentage was likely to increase as a few hundred voters were still in queue after the end of the scheduled time of polling at 5 pm.

In a four-cornered electoral battle, the contest is among BJP candidate Mimi Majumder, CPI (M)-led Left Front nominee Bulti Biswas, Congress candidate Ratan Chandra Das and SUCI(C) candidate Mridul Kanti Sarkar.

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