Battle lines have been drawn up for Thursday's polls to the 60-member Tripura assembly where heavyweights Chief Minister Manik Sarkar [ Images ], TPCC president Sudip Ray Barman and president of Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura Bijay Hrankhwal are among 249 candidates in the fray.
The Left Front is hoping to script history by returning to power for a fifth consecutive time. The main contest will be between the Left Front and its allies and the Congress and its partners.
The CPI-M [ Images ], the dominant partner in the Left Front, is contesting 56 seats, RSP two and CPI and Forward Block one each. The Congress is contesting 48 seats and its alliance partners INPT in 11 and National Conference of Tripura in one.
However, the number of women candidates remains woefully low.
Only 14 women candidates are in the fray, four less than those who had contested in the 2008 elections.
The Left Front has nominated only four women -- Minister for Social Welfare Bijita Nath, sitting MLAs Rita Kar Mazumdar and Gouri Das, former minister Vijay Laxmi Sinha and a green horn Tunu Malakar.
All these are from the CPI-M while other Left Front constituents -- CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc -- have not nominated a single woman candidate in the election.
The main opposition Congress has nominated only three candidates, all from indigenous tribal communities. They are Himani Debbarma, Jaydami Tripura and Purnita Chakma.
The remaining six women candidates included four from SUCI and Independents.
The Left Front constituents maintain that they could not find adequate number of ‘well-qualified’ women candidates to be fielded in the election while the main opposition Congress maintains that there were few candidates with ‘winnability factor’ among party’s women aspirants.
An electorate of 23,52,505 including 11,64,656 women are expected to exercise their franchise in the election contested by a total of 16 political parties and independents.
Of the 3,041 booths, 409 have been identified as very sensitive (A+), 535 booths as very sensitive (A) and 726 booths as sensitive.
Altogether 250 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the state to maintain law and order.
The Border Security Force has sealed the 856 km border with Bangladesh and deployed additional forces to prevent infiltration.
The Election Commission has formed flying squads and Static Surveillance Teams to combat the menace of cash doles and bribes and carrying of illegal arms.
Static Surveillance Teams and Flying squads have been set up in all 60 constituencies with police and government officials headed by a magistrate.