With the ruling BJP winning more than 86% seats in the panchayat elections uncontested in Tripura, the CPI(M) has claimed that a large number of the opposition parties’ candidates were prevented from filing nomination papers by the BJP's goons. The party alleged that as many as 121 CPI(M) nominees were forced to withdraw their nominations due to the threat from BJP ‘armed gangs’, a claim categorically rejected by the BJP.
The state is scheduled to hold the three-tier panchayat polls on July 27 and July 11 (Friday) was the last date of withdrawing nominations.
The opposition parties — CPI(M) and Congress candidates figure in barely 4% and 10%, respectively, out of total 6,111 gram panchayat seats. The BJP fielded candidates in all 6,111 gram panchayat seats. According to the State Election Commission, 5,278 seats have been won by the BJP uncontested so far. For the panchayat samiti, there are 56 candidates in the field out of 419 seats, and in the zilla parishad there are 67 Left Front candidates for the 116 seats.
In Dhalai district, only three of 393 gram panchayat seats are set to see a contest, the rest having gone uncontested. All panchayat samiti and zila parishad seats have gone uncontested in the district.
"There are 306 candidates of the Left Front in the fray out of 6,111 seats; for the panchayat samiti, there are 56 candidates out of 419 seats; and in zilla parishad, there are 67 Left Front candidates for 116 seats," the CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.
The CPI(M) claimed that during the nomination period from July 1 to 8, its candidates were prevented from collecting and filing nomination papers by armed gangs of the BJP.
"Bike-borne hoodlums of BJP were stationed before election offices so that no opposition candidate could collect or submit nomination papers. In most of the places, the police were just onlookers..." it said.
State Election Commissioner G Kameswara Rao informed that no party has lodged an official complaint about alleged violence and that the CPI(M) leaders met once but they did not have many complaints.
At the panchayat samiti (block) level, 338 out of total 419 seats have gone uncontested, while 37 of 116 zila parishad seats saw no contest, Rao said, adding that historically the opposition parties’ participation in the panchayat polls was never this low in the state which is known for its high voting percentages.
BJP rejects charge
Meanwhile, the BJP has rejected the allegations. Party’s Tripura unit spokesperson Ashok Sinha said that there has been no political murder in the state since the BJP came to power, adding that the CPI(M) wants to remain relevant with such statements.
"Tripura and Bengal have this culture where (political) contest is seen only during Assembly polls. Many seats are witnessing a contest. Only figures of uncontested seats are being shared with the media," he said.