Tripura Assembly Election will take place on February 18, this year. Will the Communist Party of India (Marxist) retain power for the fifth time around, or it will be a replica of what had happened to the party in West Bengal in 2011 assembly poll, in which the CPI (M)-led Left Front had to face the ignominious defeat at the hands of Trinamul Congress led by Mamata Banerjee? This tiny north-east state has become a citadel for the Left, which is likely to return to power for the eight successive times around.
However, a large number of people in Tripura are attributing the CPI (M)’s roaring success to its dynamic Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. The Chief Minister of the turbulent state has all along been focusing his energy on human, socio and economic development of the State for more than a decade. The amiable Sarkar had ensured that as many people as possible participated in the growth of Tripura, that was virtually left in turmoil during the tenure of the previous Marxist Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty. Moreover, according to a Census, the literacy has increased from 73 per cent to 87 per cent in between 2001 to 2011. Though Tripura government is claiming that it has generated employment to the people, especially in rural areas, under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, sources in the political circle inform that unemployment, if not under-employment is on the increase rapidly in Tripura, for a considerable period. The State Government, however, blames the Centre for reduction in allocation of resources for employment in Tripura, whereas the Centre accuses the state Government for misappropriation of the money allotted by the Modi Government for several schemes.
Though the Tripura Chief Minister is known for his honesty and integrity, this cannot be said of many CPI (M) members and some ministers in the Government. Some political analysts opine that not long ago, a CPI (M) legislator, covered a bed-room at his residence with bundle of currency notes to glorify his clout over money. Not only that, he saw to it that the issue was given a video coverage. Sarkar and his team had a trying time in covering up the issue. Though the concerned MLA was given a dressing-down, the damage was already done. The problem, however, started for the ruling party, when the BJP started gaining ground at the expense of Congress as a major opposition party. The CPI (M) is obviously, panicking over the presence of Sangh Parivar, as the BJP is championing for the cause of Tribal people. Needless to say, the Narendra Modi Government is banking on the vote of 32 per cent Tribal population in Tripura in the ensuing election.
Importantly, the Tripura Government is worried over the BJP’s attempt to lure the people, who crossed over from Bangladesh. It may be recalled that the BJP made a similar attempt during the Assembly Elections to West Bengal in 2011 and 2016 and succeeded electorally to some extent. For instance, the party made its presence felt in the assembly in 2011 and increased its tally to four numbers in the subsequent assembly poll, much to the chagrin and discomfiture of Mamata Banerjee and her governing team. Though, the BJP is yet to open its account in the Tripura Assembly, it is confident of making an inroad into the Left bastion, out of 60 constituencies in the State. The panic in the CPI (M) camp is understandable, as the party is paling into insignificance in its traditional stronghold at West Bengal. Even in Kerala, the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front is voted to power only in every alternative term. The insiders in the CPI(M) admit that the BJP could open its account in Kerala in the last assembly elections, despite the Marxists tough posture earlier that the Sangh Parivar, even in its wildest dream cannot win an election in a politically-conscious state like Kerala.
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