Tripura defers tribal council polls indefinitely over coronavirus pandemic, lockdown

Debraj Deb
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Shops have downed their shutters in light of the nation-wide lockdown.

Tripura has deferred general elections of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which is scheduled to have its tenure expired on May 17 this year, in the wake of the novel coronavirus.

In an order issued Thursday, Tribal Welfare Director N. Darlong said the state government has decided to defer TTAADC elections, 2020 for an ‘indefinite period’ and till further notification considering impending and alarming situation in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

The state government had issued a notification on February 11 this year, appointing State Election Commissioner as Election Commissioner for the autonomous district council as term of its general council is scheduled to expire on may 17.

“…WHO has declared coronavirus epidemic as pandemic and Government of India has declared COVID-19 epidemic as notified disaster…..the state government has taken numerous preventive steps like closure of international boundaries with Bangladesh, prohibition on movement of trains/inter-state bus, promulgation of prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPC banning mass gathering, closure of cinema halls, schools, colleges, swimming pools, gymnasiums etc. keeping in view the importance of social distancing and isolation measures for containment of the spread of COVID-19”, the order reads.

The order cited that the state government has imposed restrictions through lockdown curfew across Tripura on March 24 till March 31 and mandated social distancing as per instruction from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and referred to the national lockdown for 21 days announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before stating that the state government has deferred Tripura tribal council polls till indefinite period due to the ‘alarming situation’.

The state’s tribal council was formed as per TTAADC Act, 1979 under the provisions of 7th Schedule of the Constitution and was later upgraded with provisions under the 6th Schedule. The council has 30 seats, out of which 28 are elected and rest two are nominated by the Governor. Earlier in January this year, then state legislative Assembly unanimously resolved to increase number of seats in the Tripura ADC from 30 to 50 in a bid to elevate the status of the tribal council.