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Ministry rejects forces for rural poll

Agartala, July 3: Opposition parties in Tripura have expressed grave concern over the Union home ministry’s refusal to release central paramilitary forces for conducting panchayat polls on July 15.

“We have absolutely no faith in the state police force. They function as the B-team of the CPM. We had banked on the availability of central paramilitary forces for fair polls but since they will not be available now, the upcoming election will be reduced to a farce,” said state Trinamul Congress chairman Ratan Chakraborty today.

The Opposition Congress, BJP and Trinamul last month demanded deployment of central paramilitary forces for the panchayat elections to the state election commissioner Y. Kumar. Subsequently, Kumar requested the ministry for the additional forces. But a recent communication from the ministry has made it clear that no security forces will be available for deployment during the polls because of pressing security needs in other parts of the country.

Sources said after receiving the information from the ministry, the state election commission has approached the government for requesting the BSF and the CRPF authorities to deploy their personnel for election duty. “Out of 17 BSF and 14 CRPF battalions deployed in Tripura, a considerable number of forces can be deployed for poll duty. The commission has requested the state government to initiate discussion on the issue,” a source said.

Chakraborty said even before the poll notification was issued, CPM cadres had unleashed a “silent terror” on workers and supporters of Opposition parties but “now candidates, workers and leaders are being openly threatened and intimidated”.

State BJP president Sudheendra Dasgupta cited incidents of intimidation and attacks on BJP workers and candidates. Leader of the Opposition Sudip Roy Barman, who recently toured South Tripura and Gomati districts, alleged the CPM had unleashed a “reign of terror” in the two districts.

He attributed the CPM’s uncontested wins in 961 out of 6,646 seats in the three-tier panchayat system to “silent terror and intimidation of Opposition candidates”.

In a related development, sources in the commission said ballot papers have been already despatched to 12 of the 58 blocks and they will reach all the blocks by July 12.


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