Counting of votes for the Tripura Assembly elections began Thursday morning at 21 counting centres across the state amid tight security in the presence of the Election Commission-appointed observers.
The counting of votes started at 8 am. The northeastern state recorded the voter turnout at 81.10 per cent on February 16 elections.
The Commission has made elaborate security arrangements to ensure a smooth counting process. A three-tier security arrangement has been made with the required the deployment of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Tripura State Rifle (TRS) and Tripura Police. Sufficient security arrangements are there besides round-the-clock patrolling by 30 vehicles in which CRPF officers would be there.
“Counting of votes will take place at 21 counting centres. The EC has deployed 60 election observers. All counting staff have been trained. Security arrangements and CCTV coverage have been arranged outside and inside counting centres,” Kiran Gitte, Tripura’s Chief Electoral Officer said earlier.
Gitte said Section 144 has been imposed at certain locations in light of apprehensions over law and order.
The Northeast state saw a triangular contest as Congress and CPIM, which have been arch rivals for years, stitched a pre-poll alliance to defeat the ruling BJP.
While the BJP which is looking to retain the power contested in alliance with Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the Tipra Motha which is being seen as a kingmaker in case of a hung assembly scenario, emerged as an influential regional party floated by the royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma in 2021.
In the 60-member Tripura assembly, the majority mark is 30 and the exit polls predicted a clear edge for the BJP over its rivals in the state.
The BJP, which had never won a single seat in Tripura before 2018, stormed to power in the last election in alliance with IPFT and had ousted the Left Front which had been in power in the border state for 35 years since 1978.
India Today-Axis My India exit poll predicted that BJP would get 36-45 seats and the Left-Congress will get 6-11 seats. The exit poll gave 9-16 seats to Tipra Motha.
The ZeeNews-Matrize exit poll predicted that BJP-IPFT will get 29-36 seats in the 60-member House. It said Left-Congress combine is poised to get 13-21 seats and Tipra Motha 11-16.
The ETG-Times Now poll predicted BJP would get 24 seats, Left-Congress would get 21 seats and Tipra Motha 14 seats. The BJP had won 36 seats in the 2018 assembly election.
The BJP contested on 55 seats and its ally, IPFT, on six seats. But both allies had fielded candidates in the Ampinagar constituency in the Gomati district.
The Left contested on 47 and Congress on 13 seats, respectively. Of the total 47 seats, the CPM contested 43 seats while the Forward Bloc, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) contested one seat each.
BJP won 36 seats in the assembly and got 43.59 per cent of the votes in the 2018 election. The CPI (M) won 16 seats with a 42.22 per cent vote share. The IPFT won eight seats and Congress could not open its account.
The BJP is exuding confidence that it will improve its performance. Party’s top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and party chief JP Nadda campaigned in the state.
Apart from national leaders, the star campaigners, Chief Ministers of Assam and Uttar Pradesh, Himanta Biswa Sarma and Yogi Adiyanath respectively also campaigned in Tripura.
On the other hand, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, and senior party leaders Brinda Karat, Prakash Karat, Mohammad Salim and former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar campaigned for the party in Tripura.
Congress campaigners included party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Dipa Dasmunshi and Ajoy Kumar. However, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra did not campaign in the state.
The CPI-M-led Left Front ruled the state for nearly four decades, with a gap between 1988 and 1993, when the Congress was in power but now both parties joined hands with the intention to oust BJP from power.
Tipra Motha, which has raised the demand for Greater Tipraland, could upset the calculations of both BJP and the Left-Congress alliance. Tipra Motha, chaired by Tripura royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, is contesting at 42 seats.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress may act as a spoiler as it is contesting 28 seats and 58 independent candidates are also trying their luck.