Agartala: Polling began at a brisk pace at 7 AM for the 60-seat Tripura Assembly on Thursday amid a high security cover.
A total electorate of around 28.13 lakhs including 13.98 lakh women and 77 third genders ar eligible to decide the fate of 259 candidates across 3328 polling stations.
The ruling BJP is in the fray in 55 constituencies while its coalition partner Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) is contesting in six seats, as they could not arrive at an understanding in one seat.
Throwing a challenge to the saffron camp, one-time arch-rivals Left Front and the Congress have joined hands. The Left Front’s main constituent CPI-M has fielded candidates in 43 seats, its other partners CPI, Forward Bloc, and RSP are in the fray in one seat each, while Congress has been allotted 13 seats.
In Ramangar, both LF and Congress are backing an independent candidate, a renowned lawyer, and human rights activist Purusattam Roybarman.
Tribal outfit Tipra Motha, led by popular royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarman, has put up candidates in 42 seats, while the Trinamool Congress is battling in 28 constituencies.
There are 58 independents and 20 women aspirants in the race.
Women polling officers and security personnel are conducting elections in 60 polling, said state Chief electoral Officer (CEO) Kiran Gitte.
Altogether1100 polling stations have been adjudged sensitive and 28 marked critical.
Long queues were seen before most of the booths in the city. Morning walkers in casual dress were foundwaiting in the polling booths at Acharya Prafulla Chandra Vidyamandir in the VIP colony of Kunjaban where top bureaucrats including the CEO are voters.
“I came well before time to cast my vote as I have to catch a flight. I am happy with the arrangements and the measures here, which depict the real sense of the festival of democracy – thanks to ECI,” said Prof Satyadeo Poddar, Vice Chancellor of MBB University here.
“Entire road stretches even the connecting lanes were brought under security surveillance to ensure that voters should not face any problem reaching polling stations in the sensitive constituencies along with dedicated helpline one for each constituency,” said G S Rao, IGP (Crime & Intelligence).
Gitte said all the polling booths are managed by central armed personnel. ECI has employed as many as 31,000 polling officials and 25,000 security personnel along with state armed police and the state police to ensure zero poll violence.