Agartala: People queue up early morning to cast their vote at a polling centre in Agartala April 11, 2019. . Image Source: IANS News

Agartala, April 11 : With the Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency going to the polls in the first phase on Thursday, the opposition parties are fearing intimidation and violence by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while the BJP has snubbed the claims of hostility by it.

Though there are 13 candidates in the fray, the main contest in the Tripura West seat would be between the BJP nominee Pratima Bhoumik (50), the CPI-M led Left Front candidate Sankar Prasad Datta (61) and Subal Bhowmik (58), who quit the post of state BJP Vice President last month to become a Congress aspirant.

The main opposition parties, especially the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress, are strongly apprehending intimidation and violence by the BJP.

CPI-M's state Secretary Gautam Das said that since the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections on March 10, BJP workers and its goons have unleashed unprecedented violence in Tripura.

"Hooligans backed by the BJP and its workers are not only intimidating the polling agents, but are also threatening the voters with dire consequences, especially those are supporters of the opposition parties," Das told the media.

He said the BJP workers and goons attacked and hurled handmade bombs on the houses of Left Front members and supporters in different parts of the state on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

"The Left Front leaders have approached the Election Commission and met the Chief Electoral Officer here on a number of occasions, giving details of pre-poll political violence. But not a single step has been taken to stop these," Das said.

Echoing CPI-M's views, Congress leader Tapas Dey alleged that the BJP has unleashed a reign of terror across the state.

"Despite a series of complains lodged with the Election Commission (EC) and the state authorities, nothing has been done to deal with the political terrorism of the ruling party," Dey told reporters.

Rejecting the opposition parties' apprehensions, BJP spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee told the media that fearing humiliating defeat in the elections, both the CPI-M and the Congress were making unfounded allegations.

"To avoid the crushing defeat, the CPI-M may withdraw its candidates any time and quit the electoral contest," Bhattacharjee claimed.

The EC and the police have made elaborate security arrangements to ensure free and fair polling in the state.

Tripura Director General of Police Akhil Kumar Shukla told the media that over 64 companies of additional central paramilitary forces have arrived in Tripura to assist the Tripura State Rifles, the state police and the existing paramilitary forces in the state to ensure smooth, incidence-free polling.

The state police chief said that over 1,650 people have been arrested in connection with 55 cases of political violence.

Meanwhile, the seasonal cyclone (Nor'wester) in the past few days has damaged several polling stations and electrical transmission lines in some parts of Tripura, the Sonamura sub-division in Sepahijala district being worst affect.

"District authorities have undertaken works to repair the damaged polling stations and restore electricity supply in the affected areas," an election department official said.

A total of 13,47,381 electorates, including 6,65,322 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency.

A total of 1,679 polling stations, including 30 to be managed by only women polling officials and security personnel, have been set up to hold the polls.

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