Assembly elections will be held in Tripura on February 16, and in Meghalaya and Nagaland on February 27 with the counting for the states in the Northeast scheduled for March 2.
The BJP or its allies are in power in the three states. In Tripura, the Left and the Congress are in talks for an alliance. The Trinamul Congress is also trying out its luck in Tripura and Meghalaya.
Around the same time the polls were being announced in New Delhi, tempers ran high in West Tripura district, 15km from Agartala. Ajoy Kumar, the AICC general secretary in charge of Tripura and Nagaland, was among four persons injured during a confrontation between supporters of the Congress and the ruling BJP during a bike rally taken out by the Opposition party in the afternoon.
Police said Kumar suffered injuries on his cheek after he was hit by a stone thrown by someone from the crowd. He has been taken to a hospital in Agartala. The three others have been discharged, the police said.
AICC secretary Szarita Laitphlang said: “Ajoyji has suffered injuries on his face and on his back. Another member has suffered ahead injury. We will be moving the EC on Thursday.”
Tripura state CPM secretary Jitendra Chaudhury met Kumar in the hospital in the evening.
The police said the trigger for the clash was the alleged vandalisation of an empty booth by Congress members at SN Colony, about 5km from the confrontation site.
“When BJP members heard about the booth incident, they too assembled. Everything was almost sorted out in about 15 minutes when stone-pelting started. But we managed to disperse the crowd promptly. We have arrested two persons, one from each camp, after both sides lodged complaints. Raids are on to arrest others,” a police officer said.
Bypolls to the Lakshadweep parliamentary seat — whose NCP MP Mohammed Faizal P.P. was disqualified after conviction for an attempt to murder — and the Assembly seats of Sagardighi in Bengal, Jharkhand’s Ramgarh, Arunachal Pradesh’s Lumla, Maharashtra’s Kasba Peth and Chinchwad and Tamil Nadu’s Erode will be held on February 27.
In these seats too, the votes will be counted on March 2.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar told reporters there were sufficient central forces for every polling station.
Election officials have been instructed to construct permanent facilities like toilets and ramps instead of temporary ones. The “assured minimum facilities” include drinking water, waiting sheds and ramps.
“Let this be a gift to the schools used as polling stations. States have sanctioned the required budgets,” Kumar said.
As the CBSE has announced its board exam schedule from February 15 onwards, no CBSE school will be used for polling.
In response to questions on the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, which has not had a legislature since 2018, the CEC said: “The process of delimitation is complete. The process of SSR (special summary revision of electoral rolls) is complete. The process of identifying, fixing, rearranging the polling stations after deliberations is also complete.”
“We are conscious that any other place where elections are due, it is our duty that they get a government in place as mandated. We are alive to this,” he added.