"The NOTA (None Of The Above) provision has been made available for the first time on the ballot papers, he added."
Agartala, July 15 - Barring a few incidents of clashes, the three-tier gram panchayat elections in Left-ruled Tripura are being held peacefully Tuesday.
Except for some stray incidents, voting has been peaceful so far. About 50 percent voters have cast their ballots till afternoon, Inspector General of Police (Police Control) Nepal Das told IANS.
There were reports of clashes between workers of rival political parties from three places but nobody suffered any major injury, he added.
According to the state Election Commission, of the 13,754 candidates, 50 percent are women.
For the first time in Tripura, 50 percent seats in gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads have been reserved for women, state Election Commissioner Y. Kumar said.
Voting is being held for 5,129 seats in gram panchayats, 381 seats in panchayat samitis and 398 seats in zilla parishads.
The candidates backed by the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist have already won 980 seats in gram panchayats, 38 seats in panchayat samitis and two seats in zilla parishads unopposed.
Counting of ballots will be done Friday.
About 1,108,190 electors, 48.45 percent of whom are women, are eligible to exercise their franchise through ballot boxes, instead of electronic voting machines (EVMs). The law has restricted use of EVMs in the rural bodies' polls.
Kumar said the state Election Commission sought 40 companies of central paramilitary forces from the home ministry for smooth conduct of the polls but 17 companies were sanctioned. Over 12,000 state security personnel have also been deployed.
The NOTA (None Of The Above) provision has been made available for the first time on the ballot papers, he added.
In the last elections to the local bodies five years ago, the CPI-M-led Left Front secured absolute majority in 414 gram panchayats and in all the panchayat samitis and zilla parishads.