A large number of voters queued up outside various polling centres in Tripura’s Pratapgarh and Surma constituencies to cast their votes in bypolls on Saturday morning.
Under heavy security, some 92,146 voters have been reported to have exercised their franchise, which will decide the fate of nine candidates across 115 polling stations of both the assembly segments.
The polling began at 8 a.m.. There was a significant voter turnout despite bad weather.
A large number of female voters also turned up to cast their votes, leaving behind their household chores and children tucked in.
Special arrangements were also made for the physically challenged, including the setting up of ramps at most polling centres.
“Vote casting is taking place, and there is large turnout. Security personnel have been deployed everywhere and polling is taking place peacefully. There is no problem,” said Madhusudhan Hrishi Das, a disabled voter.
Some of the female voters said that they had come out to vote in the morning, as they feared it might rain later in the day.
For the first time, specially modified Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with photos of the contesting candidates were being used, to check possible malpractices and other irregularities during the bypolls.
This has been done in accordance with the Election Commission order that said that in any election held after May 1, the ballot papers will carry the picture of the candidate with his or her name and the party symbol to avoid confusion among the electorate in constituencies where namesakes are contesting.
The June 27 bypolls are the first since the order came into effect.
In the wake of possible violence, adequate security personnel have been deployed to conduct the polls in a free and fair manner.
“Despite unfavourable weather, a large number of voters have turned out . So far, the voting is peacefully going on. And, I hope, the entire election will be carried out peacefully,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rajendra Datta.
Most polling centres have been equipped with video cameras and a large number of micro observers have also been deployed to undertake surprise visits to these centres.
The central paramilitary force, BSF and CRPF, were also seen patrolling outside the polling centres.
Even, the border areas with Bangladesh have been sealed.
The bypolls for the two Tripura Assembly seats in Pratapgarh and Surma is slated to witness strong contest between the ruling Left Front and the opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fighting to gain maximum political mileage.
Though the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the dominant partner in the ruling Left Front, is in an advantageous position in the Pratapgarh and Surma assembly segments, the ruling BJP at the Centre has registered significant improvement in the country’s lone Left-ruled state in the recent elections to the 30-seat Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council and last year’s panchayat elections.