Election panel sets ball rolling for Tripura polls

Agartala, Jan 21 (IANS) With the issue of a statutory notification, the Election Commission of India (ECI) Monday set the process rolling for the Feb 14 assembly polls in Tripura.

"From today (Monday) onwards the candidates can file their nomination papers and the last date of filing them is Jan 28, excluding the holidays. The scrutiny of nominations would take place next day (Jan 29)," Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal told reporters here.

The last date for withdrawing nominations is Jan 31.

The major political parties in the fray - the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress and its ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura - have announced their candidates for the 60-seat Tripura assembly polls.

Jindal said the ECI has announced multi-pronged measures and strategies to hold the assembly election free, fair and with absolute neutrality.

The poll panel would form flying-squads led by a magistrate to check illegal arms, distribution of money and other unlawful materials during the assembly polls.

Besides Tripura, two more northeastern states -- Meghalaya and Nagaland -- will go to polls next month.

The commission will also deploy observers in each district of the election-bound states.

"The observers would monitor whether candidates are exceeding stipulated limit of expenditure, violating any poll model code of conduct and causing any ethnic or law and order problem," an ECI official said.

The ECI has transferred six senior officials, including a district magistrate, and barred them from election duties in Tripura.