Tripura’s ruling alliance partners Bharatiya Janata Party and Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura will contest against each other in the three-tier panchayat bye-elections, PTI reported on Friday.

By-elections to 3,207 gram panchayat seats, 161 panchayat samitis and 18 zilla parishads are scheduled to take place on September 30. The bye-polls were necessitated by large-scale resignations of representatives after the BJP-IPFT government came to power in March.

BJP’s panchayat election committee chairman and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ratan Lal Nath announced the first list of 3,155 candidates for the bye-elections on Thursday evening, reported The Indian Express. Nath said the first list of candidates includes 1,998 women. Candidates for the remaining seats will be announced soon, he added.

BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb said contesting the elections alone will not affect the party’s alliance with the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura. “BJP’s alliance with IPFT was centering Assembly election and to form a state government in Tripura,” Deb said. “Lok Sabha election is a different issue.”

Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura General Secretary Mangal Debbarma confirmed that his party will contest separately in the bye-elections. “They [BJP] didn’t advise us anything about an alliance for panchayat bye-polls,” Debbarma said. “So, we were forced to decide to contest alone. They discussed with our president NC Debbarma yesterday [Thursday] before announcing the first list of candidates. But we are contesting separately and shall field candidates against each other.”

Another general secretary and Forest Minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia, however, told IANS that the party will discuss the matter with BJP leaders to fight the elections together. “No discussion has been held yet with the BJP leaders to contest separately.”

Meanwhile, the Left front and Congress leaders separately met Tripura State Election Commissioner G Kameswara Rao on Thursday, urging him to ensure security to opposition leaders and candidates and a conducive environment to hold the elections.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) Central Committee Member Bijan Dhar said large-scale attacks, arson, loot and intimidation has continued since the BJP-IPFT alliance came to power. “The ruling parties’ leaders and cadres forced thousands of elected panchayat representatives from opposition parties to resign,” he said, adding that around 96% of elected representatives of non-BJP parties were forced to resign.

Congress said that it will contest in all the seats of three-tier panchayats, while the CPI (M) said it would try to contest in “as many seats as possible”, according to The Telegraph.