Agartala: As the Election Commission of India’s full bench landed in Tripura on Wednesday, opposition parties shared concerns over free and fair elections. 

The ECI full bench, led by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, reviewed poll preparation and the top officials met political representatives of different parties, poll officials and police to ascertain the ground situation. 

Representatives from all the major political parties, including the BJP, IPFT, CPIM, Congress and Trinamool Congress met the officials at the state guest house and submitted detailed memorandums.

Speaking to media persons after the meeting, the three-member ECI team, BJP Vice President Dr Ashok Sinha said, “We have told the ECI that our party wants peaceful elections. We believe in democracy and there is no room for violence. People should participate in the elections like celebrations.”

BJP Central Observer Dr Mahesh Sharma said, “We have made our stand clear. Any kind of activity that could hamper the electoral process should be dealt with strict hands.”

On the other hand, most of the opposition parties have highlighted how lacunas in the law and order front turned the recent elections into a farcical exercise.

“The voters of the state are concerned about the elections. They don’t know whether they will be able to cast their votes in the ensuing polls or not. Be it Lok Sabha polls of 2019, assembly by-elections or other local body polls, people could not vote freely and now the onus is on the Election Commission of India to ensure that people can exercise their universal adult franchise sans independently for a democratically elected government,” said Chowdhury.

The CPIM also urged the ECI to resume the telecast of some cable TV channels that had to face the brunt of unfiltered coverage of the polls violating the diktat of the ruling party.

Senior Congress leader and lone MLA of the party, Sudip Roy Barman, emphasised strengthening policing close to the polling stations to build confidence among electorates.

“Polling booths must be immune to any violent activities. Mobile police vans should be put in place for an immediate response, whenever required,” said Barman.
Ruling ally IPFT also demanded adequate deployment of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces.

Trinamool Congress and senior lawyer Pijush Kanti Biswas said state police should not play a key role in the maintenance of law and order. 

“A section of Tripura police are playing into the hands of the ruling party. On several occasions, they played the role of silent bystanders during poll-related violence. The ECI should consider their parochial role and make alternative arrangements for law and order maintenance,” Biswas told the media.

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