Alleging that "genuine voters could not exercise their franchise freely" in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the recent by-elections in Tripura, former chief minister and CPI(M) leader Manik Sarkar on Sunday urged the Election Commission to ensure free and fair poll in the upcoming assembly elections. His comment comes just two days before the scheduled arrival of the full bench of the EC in the state to review preparedness for the assembly polls.
“You have set a bad precedent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and by-elections to four Assembly constituencies in Tripura. Genuine voters could not exercise their franchise freely on these two occasions," Sarkar said, addressing a programme organised by CPI(M)-backed trade union CITU at Vivekananda ground here.
He also claimed that when the Left party tried to draw attention to EC functionaries about alleged misconduct by saffron party workers to voters, "the EC officials said they were not responsible for what happened outside polling stations and the police would look into such grievances".
“This time, we will not be convinced with such remarks, if genuine voters face any trouble in exercising their franchise. We want to remind your constitutional responsibility to ensure that electors can exercise their democratic rights without any fear or intimidation. You have to facilitate an environment so that the voting right of each elector is protected," the CPI(M) leader said in an apparent reference to the EC.
Claiming that the BJP has "no chance" to win the upcoming assembly elections, Sarkar said the saffron party's strength has "weakened substantially as its ally IPFT has lost importance in Tripura politics. Those anti-Left leaders, who were with the BJP during the 2018 elections, returned to the Congress, he claimed.
He also took a dig at the ruling BJP over the deployment of central forces in the state ahead of the elections. “We came to know that 100 companies of central forces have already arrived in the state and 300 more will come. You can bring 1000 companies of central forces but adequate central security personnel were not deployed when the Left was in power.
“The heavy deployment of central forces may be a ploy. They have realised that people are angry over the misrule of the present dispensation," he said without naming the BJP. He termed the BJP-IPFT dispensation as a "non-performing government" and urged people to take a lead role to remove the saffron camp from power.