Opposition CPI(M) in Tripura has urged the State Election Commission to ensure "proper democratic atmosphere" ahead of the by-elections for three-tier panchayats.
"We demand before conducting the by-polls, the concerned authority must ensure proper democratic atmosphere in the state, so that opposition parties could participate in the elections without fear," Tripura CPI(M) secretary Bijan Dhar told reporters.
Dhar said there are 18 vacant seats in the zilla parishads where the by-polls are to be held.
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However, out of these 18 seats, he said that 16 fell vacant after the BJP-IPFT government came to power in the state in March.
Similarly, 155 out of the total 161 seats in panchayat samities fell vacant after the current dispensation came into force, Dhar said.
"A large number of people's representatives had to resign after the BJP-IPFT government formed in March due to political pressure and terror unleashed by the ruling party's supporters and activists. Abnormal vacancies were created due to resignation under duress," he alleged.
When contacted, state Election Commissioner G Kameswar Rao said, "It is a political statement (about ensuring proper democratic atmosphere) and I need not comment on it."
Rao said bye-polls for the three-tier panchayats would be held in September and election dates would be announced this week.
Tripura by-polls will take place just months before the Lok Sabha elections 2019. The general elections will be held in the months of April-May next year to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha.