Agartala/Guwahati, March 5 (IANS): Several political parties in the Northeast on Wednesday expressed happiness over the multi-phased Lok Sabha polls, except for Assam's regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) which said the dates will affect the Rongali Bihu, a major festival in the State.
Congress leaders in Tripura, Assam and other northeastern States welcomed the election schedule announced by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) VS Sampath in New Delhi.
While Assam Congress spokesman Mehdi Alam Bora expressed happiness over the dates, opposition Congress leader in Left-ruled Tripura, Sudip Roy Barman, said the two-phase election in the State "would help the authorities conduct the polls in a free and fair manner".
Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) spokesman Manoj Saikia expressed unhappiness at the Lok Sabha poll dates, saying the dates will affect the Rongali Bihu, a major festival of Assam. "Rongali Bihu is like a month-long festival. As six constituencies will go to polls April 24, the Bihu festivities will be affected in those areas. The Commission should have taken into consideration the sentiments of the people of Assam," said Saikia.
Assam has the highest number of 14 Lok Sabha seats in the region, followed by Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh with two each while Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim have one seat each.
The Lok Sabha elections in 25 constituencies in the eight States would be held in five phases - April 7, 9, 12, 17 and 24.
"There should be single-phase polling in small states like Tripura. The mafia might get scope for unlawful activities in multi-phase polling in small states," Bharatiya Janata Party national executive committee member Sudhindra Dasgupta told IANS.
The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Tripura welcomed the multi-phase elections.
"When there was a serious terrorist problem in Tripura and other northeastern States, there was single-phase polling on previous occasions," CPI-M Tripura state secretary and party's central committee member Bijan Dhar told IANS.
"We do not know why the Election Commission decided to conduct multi-phase elections. However, we have no problem with multi-phase polling," he said.
Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal said the State election machinery is gearing up for the polls. "Adequate security and other administrative measures would be taken for the elections in two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura," the CEO told reporters.
Assam BJP spokesman Rupam Goswami also expressed happiness over the polling dates. "As the elections will be held in the middle of Bihu festival, there would not be a law and order problem and polling is likely to be peaceful," Goswami said.
Aminul Islam, spokesman of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), said: "We have a strong presence in all six constituencies which would go to polls April 24. So we are going to get more time to prepare and contest the polls in a better way."