Elections are being held for over 200 seats in municipal bodies of Tripura on Thursday.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has fielded candidates in all seats in Tripura civic elections, has already won 112 out of the total 334 seats uncontested in the Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) and 19 urban bodies.
Nevertheless, a three-way battle between the ruling BJP and challenger Trinamool Congress besides the Communist Party of India-Marxist, is expected to ensue for the remaining seats, given the high voltage drama witnessed in the run up to the elections, which saw TMC sending its to leaders to Tripura and BJP fighting back politically.
For TMC a strong footprint in Agartala and elsewhere in the northeastern state is essential as it hopes to topple BJP in Tripura's state election in 2023 and also emerge as a strong opposition to the BJP on a national scale.
While for the CPI-M it is a chance to show that it still retains deep pockets of influence in the state.
A total of 785 contestants are in the fray for the remaining 222 seats after 36 candidates withdrew their nominations.
Altogether there are 334 seats in the urban local bodies, including Agartala Municipal Corporation (51 wards), 13 Municipal Councils, and six Nagar Panchayats across the state.
36 candidates, including 15 candidates of the opposition CPI-M, four of TMC, eight of Congress, two of the All India Forward Bloc, and seven Independent candidates withdrew their nominations, an official said.
Ambassa Municipal Council, Jirania Nagar Panchayat, Mohanpur Municipal Council, Ranirbazar Municipal Council, Bishalgarh Municipal Council, Udaipur Municipal Council and Santirbazar Municipal Council have no opposition candidates.
A total of 5, 94,772 voters are eligible to cast their votes in the civic poll and the number of women voters outnumber male voters in urban areas.
TMC youth leader Saayoni Ghosh, who was arrested on charges of criminal intimidation and attempt to murder, was on Monday granted bail by the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in West Tripura district.
The West Bengal Trinamool Youth Congress president was on Sunday arrested on charges of criminal intimidation, attempt to murder, and promotion of disharmony between groups after she raised the party's 'khela hobe' (game will be played) slogan outside a meeting being addressed by the state Chief Minister Biplab Deb.
The TMC leadership claimed several party activists came under attack when they had gathered outside the police station, where Ghosh was taken after her arrest.
The state has been witnessing protests and violence in the run-up to the polls.
Tripura State Election Commission (SEC) had announced the election to 20 urban local bodies, including Agartala Municipal Corporation in all the eight districts in the state. -- ANI/PTI