Politics News

BJP Will Capture Booths, No VVPAT Or CCTV Arranged by EC: TMC’s Sushmita Dev ahead of Tripura Civic Polls

Tripura will have municipal elections on Thursday after a fierce tussle during campaigning between the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress, which is trying to gain a foothold here to burnish its national credentials. In an exclusive interview with News18, TMC Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sushmita Dev accused the state administration and police of bias, while lamenting the fact that the Election Commission has not arranged voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras for the polls. VVPAT and CCTV are mandatory for assembly and Lok Sabha polls. In civic polls, the decision is at the discretion of the EC. The TMC leader also claimed that the residents are afraid to come out to vote and that the BJP may attempt to capture booths. Excerpts:

Will there be free and fair elections in Tripura now after the court order?

Free and fair elections will not take place in Tripura because the police are one-sided. The police are making the situation bad. Even after the order, it’s our people on whom attempt to murder cases are slapped. The voters are not safe there, they will feel threatened to come out and vote.

Court order is clear, even then you think there will not be free and fair polls?

Only deploying more police won’t work. The administration is one-sided. Only the people can change things here but will they come out? The court has given the right order. But I have doubts about how things will be. You have seen how Sudip Roy Burman, BJP MLA, has criticised his party.

Do you think violence will take place, or people won’t come out?

They got inside the home of our state convener at night and attacked. The police did nothing. Still, it has happened in the past that people have come out and voted and changed things. We have made that appeal, we can hope. I am sure that if voting takes place, TMC will win. EC has not given VVPAT and CCTV cameras, so you can understand that even if booth capturing takes place, nothing will come to light. We sat on a dharna and nothing happened. I think they might do it in sensitive booths. But they (BJP) will capture the booths and we will not be able to do much. This is the murder of democracy.

The BJP has said that you have invited outside people, you created enmity…

Show me one visual where BJP flags are torn or their people have been beaten up. Everywhere it’s our flag, our car… Abhishek Banerjee’s car was damaged. There’s no evidence on their side. If it’s there then please show it. Tripura government car has been seen removing the flag of TMC. They say talk about Bengal but NHRC has given directions on Bengal. But in Tripura, they have not done much. Human rights are not an issue in Tripura.

What is your expectation about the result? The BJP has stated that you have an alliance with the Left.

If people can vote, the TMC will win. People have decided. Where are the Left and Congress? They are nowhere. It’s only TMC standing with the people. That’s why the BJP is afraid. Mamata has always fought against the CPI(M).

BJP is saying your leaders are giving speeches that incite people.

In Tripura, one MLA said ‘go after TMC’, another used the label ‘Taliban’. No action has been taken. Our leaders are getting booked in cases every day, but what about cases against BJP leaders? Is the law different for them? They talk about Bengal but the question is what narrative are you setting?

What next after the municipal polls?

We will win in 2023 (assembly elections). They thought our candidates would get intimidated and would not fight. Even after everything, they are on the road, fighting. It’s a complete dictatorship that will change. By 2023, the people will come out and vote. Mamata Banerjee’s second name is ‘Himmat’ (courage). So we will go ahead with the support of Abhishek Banerjee.

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