251 to contest in Tripura

Agartala, Feb 1 (IANS) A total of 251 candidates will be in the fray in the Feb 14 elections to pick a new 60-member Tripura assembly, officials said Friday.

The contestants include independents as well as representatives of 16 political parties including the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Of the 251, 14 are women and 25 are independents. In 2008, 313 candidates, including 18 women, contested.

Altogether 296 candidates had filed nominations. Thirty nominations were rejected due to various reasons and 15 candidates withdrew their candidature, Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal told reporters here.

Thursday was the last date for withdrawing nominations.

Jindal said: "For the first time in Tripura four all-women polling stations will be set up to conduct the elections."

The CPI-M-led Left Front, the Congress and its ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) will field candidates in all 60 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party will have 50 candidates.

Jindal announced several steps to hold a free and fair election.

Two other northeastern states, Meghalaya and Nagaland, will go to the polls Feb 23.

Over 20,000 personnel would be deployed to conduct the elections in 3,018 polling stations in Tripura.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur are likely to campaign in Tripura.

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