Poll panel reviews election preparations in Tripura

Agartala, Jan 5 (IANS) The full bench of the Election Commission of India (ECI) led by Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath Saturday held a series of meetings with political parties and senior officials to review preparations for the assembly elections in Tripura.

The assembly elections are due to be held next month in the country's lone Left-ruled state, Tripura, along with two other northeastern states - Nagaland and Meghalaya.

"The commission (ECI) held meetings with five national political parties including ruling CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and main opposition Congress. They also held meetings with Chief Secretary S.K. Panda, state police chief Sanjay Sinha and senior other officials," Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal told reporters.

After revewing election preparedness in Nagaland, Sampath along with Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and Dr. Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi arrived here Saturday from Kohima.

The poll panel will go to Kolkata en route to Meghalaya Saturday evening to conduct similar meetings in Shillong.

An ECI official told IANS that on returning to New Delhi, the commission expects to announce the schedule of assembly elections in the three northeastern states next week.

The assemblies in Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland have 60 seats each. Their five-year terms expire March 10, March 16 and March 26 respectively.

Tripura CEO said that the training of returning officers, checking of electronic voting machines and other steps have been taken to conduct the elections smoothly.

The final electoral rolls of Tripura will be published Jan 12 after about a four-month long summary revision of the voters' list.

Demanding free and fair elections, Tripura Pradesh Congress President Sudip Roy Barman told the ECI that despite the best efforts of the Election Commission, the officials associated with the revision of the voters' list in Tripura are working at the behest of the ruling CPI-M.

The Congress has urged the ECI to conduct the elections in Tripura as a "model poll" so that its method could apply in the future elections in other states.

The Left party strongly denounced the charges.

"The Congress becomes scared to face the assembly elections as it would suffer a humiliating defeat in the ensuing assembly polls in Tripura. That's why the party wants to come to power through the back door as it did in 1988," CPI-M spokesman Gautam Das told reporters after meeting with the ECI.

Demanding appropriate actions against the terrorists, Das said : "Before every elections in Tripura, separatist outfits have stepped up their violent activities. The extremists work in favour of Congress."

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