The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the central government to rush in more central forces to Tripura to man polling stations and ensure free and fair municipal elections which the Trinamool Congress claims has been marred by partisan state action designed to prevent the opposition parties from campaigning. Polling started on Thursday morning and was held in the backdrop of the violence in the state.
A bench, led by Justice DY Chandrachud, was responding to fresh developments in the state brought to its notice by the Trinamool. The party was being represented by senior advocates Jaideep Gupta and Gopal Shankarnarayan. The state is being defended by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani and Shuvodeep Roy.
The court asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide two additional companies of CAPF forces as soon as possible so that polling could take place without any “disturbance” or “dislocation” and counting could happen “unhindered”. Counting in the state is scheduled to take place on November 28.
The Trinamool Congress has alleged that the state administration, by acting in a partisan manner and targetting its cadres, had denied it a level playing field. The party had moved the court to ensure a longer campaigning period by postponing the municipal polls.
The court had, however, refused to postpone the elections on the grounds that it did not want to set such a trend in a democracy. Instead, the court had directed the administration to act in a non-partisan way. The court has directed the state DGP, IGP and home secretary to ensure this. The bench also directed that print and electronic media be allowed unhindered to the polling stations in the absence of CCTV cameras to ensure free and fair voting.
The state claimed that it had deployed two companies of BSF on Wednesday night to man the polling stations.