Agartala, May 3:
With more tribal autonomy being viewed as a key issue, Tripura is witnessing its first EVM election on Sunday for its 30-member Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).
Polling for the TTAADC, a constitutional body viewed almost equivalent to state assembly, were being held peacefully in the morning.
“Weather is very pleasant all over. Voting has been peaceful so far. There are long queues of men and women at almost all the polling stations,” Superintendent of Police (Police Control) Uttam Kumar Bhowmik told IANS.
Voting is being held at 1,070 polling stations in TTAADC areas, whose jurisdiction covers two-third of Tripura’s 10,491.69 square km territory.
There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the state in the morning, he added.
Of the 175 candidates contesting the elections for the TTAADC, 10 are women, said state Election Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Rakesh, adding that a total of 758,554 electors, including 375,117 women, are eligible to vote.
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used in the TTAADC polls for the first time. Over 6,055 governement employees and around 200 senior officials have been engaged to conduct the polls, the official added.
He said besides four national political parties — Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Communist Party of India (CPI), Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — several local parties, including Trinamool Congress, have fielded their candidates for the autonomous constitutional body elections.
Two tribal-based parties — Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) and Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) — also nominated their candidates for all the 28 seats.
Unlike the Congress and BJP, the CPI-M holds a substantial base both among the tribals and non-tribals helping the Left party to govern the northeastern state since 1978 except for five years –1988-1993 — when the Congress-led alliance government ruled the state.
Since its formation in 1982, the Left Front has ruled the TTAADC except in two terms — 1990-1995 and 2000-2005.
During 1990 to 1995, the Congress-Tripura Upajati Juba Samity, a tribal based party, governed the TTAADC and in 2000-2005 the IPFT ruled the council.
All the parties are vying for more power in the TTAADC, which currently administers 18 departments, including school education, primary health, forest, industry, tribal welfare, PWD, sports and youth affairs.
Counting of ballots is scheduled for May 6.
Set up in 1982 to protect and safeguard the political, economic and cultural interests of tribals, the 30-member TTAADC has 28 seats filled through direct election while two members are nominated by the government.
Twenty-seven seats in the council are reserved for tribals, who make up one-third of Tripura’s 3.7 million population. (IANS)