Tripura’s urban body polls on Thursday will not only be held amid “unprecedented” security concerns aired by the Opposition but also under the scanner of the Supreme Court that has directed police to ensure that the process that ends with the counting on November 28 goes off peacefully.
Both the CPM and the Trinamul Congress on Wednesday expressed apprehensions about security despite Tuesday’s Supreme Court direction to the police to “act in a non-partisan manner” and crack down on those violating the law.
The court order came on a contempt plea by Trinamul against the state’s BJP government for allegedly violating the November 11 order to ensure peaceful campaigning and security of candidates.
Tripura Trinamul convener Subal Bhowmik said the ruling BJP was bringing people from Bishalgarh, Majlishpur, Mohanpur and other places to “capture” the Agartala Municipal Corporation, one among the 13 civic bodies that will go to the polls.
“We are grateful to the apex court for the verdict but unfortunately it seems that the state police, administration and government are not taking the Supreme Court’s decision seriously,” Bhowmik told The Telegraph.
“I have contested Assembly elections six times but I have never entered any candidate’s house randomly and interrogated them, which the BJP has been doing here. The houses of three of our candidates were vandalised and several polling agents threatened on Tuesday night. There are unprecedented security concerns. It is also the first time that the Supreme Court has had to monitor the polls,” he added.
CPM state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury said the BJP, police, and the state election commission were out to “rig” the polls by bringing in people from villages.
“Despite Supreme Court and high court directions, there has been no change. Rowdies are doing everything in front of the police. Last night they canvassed house-to-house after campaigning ended and even threatened BJP supporters to stay at home.
“They are not believing their own people. Understand the gravity of the situation. It is State-sponsored rigging. If the polls are free and fair, the BJP will not win even 10 seats because there is strong anti-incumbency,” Chaudhury told this newspaper.
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said: “Allegations will be levelled by the Opposition on the eve of elections and also on the day of polling. There has been no untoward incident till now…. Why should we get people from outside? What is the need? We are winning all 51 seats in the AMC and other urban bodies where polls will be held on Thursday.”
Following the Supreme Court order on Tuesday warning of coercive action, the Tripura State Election Commission reviewed the law-and-order situation to ensure peaceful polling. Tripura police subsequently issued a statement announcing the deployment of “adequate” security personnel.