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Dilemma over bandh support

Agartala, May 4: The state Congress is in a dilemma whether to support the 12-hour bandh called by the Tripura Gramin Vikash Congress on May 16, counting day, in protest against alleged largescale irregularities during the Lok Sabha polls on April 7 and 12.

Leader of the Opposition and state Congress president, Sudip Roy Barman, was keen to support the strike but other leaders are firmly opposed to the idea. “We oppose the decision to back the strike. We have requested Roy Barman to get in touch with the high command and seek permission,” said former Congress MLA Tapas De.

Roy Barman was not available for comment but PCC working president Asish Saha said a final decision was yet to be taken since the high command had not taken a call. Saha, however, said the Tripura Congress has already filed a detailed complaint to the Election Commission demanding repoll in both the Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

While the Congress is hit by indecision, the Trinamul Congress has opposed the strike call. “Strikes cannot be called on any pretext as they cause suffering to common people. We oppose the strike call though we will keep protesting the irregularities in the election,” said Ratan Chakraborty, chairman of the state Trinamul unit. He added that the state election department had failed to perform its duties.

Despite the lack of support from major parties, the Vikash Congress remains determined to enforce its strike. Party president Subal Bhowmik blamed the election department for the irregularities and said chief electoral officer Ashutosh Jindal and his staff had worked for the CPM. “We will observe a 12-hour bandh on May 16. The people are upset over the ‘farcical exercise’ in the name of elections.”

Jindal said only two written complaints had been filed after polling in West Tripura seat on April 7, while only one complaint was filed after polling in East Tripura seat on April 12. “These complaints were examined by central observers and duly disposed off. When a local cable TV channel aired a video clip showing a nominated voter assisting two visually challenged voters in pressing buttons on the EVM at a booth under Tripura West parliamentary constituency, we ordered an immediate enquiry and suspended the presiding officer,” he said.


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