The anti-Left Front vehicle has picked up speed in Tripura. Fuelling it is the landlocked state's titular king.
'Maharaja' Kirit Pradyot Debbarma campaigning near Agartala. HT
'Maharaja' Kirit Pradyot Debbarma is a king without a kingdom. But many in Tripura are emotionally attached to Ujjayanta Palace, state capital Agartala's centrepiece, from where the last sovereign Bir Bikram ruled before his kingdom's merger with the Indian Union 65 years ago.
The Congress and its primary ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) are relying on this attachment to prevent the LF from forming the fifth successive government.
Pradyot, 35, was to have been the Congress candidate from Charilam constituency south of Agartala. He decided instead to be the party's campaigner, particularly in the 20 tribal constituencies and 10 more with mixed populations.
The INPT and National Conference of Tripura (also a Congress ally) are contesting 12 of the 20 tribal seats. Tripura has a total 60 seats.
"The sentiment of the people for our dynasty is very strong. We hope this sentiment translates into victory for the anti-Left alliance," said Pradyot.
From 8am to 10pm, Pradyot has been covering an average 250km a day. In three days, he attended meetings in 65 places besides going door-to-door explaining in Kokborok -lingua franca for 16 of Tripura's 19 tribes - and Bengali why they should vote for a change.
"Some involvement of the palace can do democracy no harm, and we hope the Congress-INPT does well enough for our king to be back in our daily lives," said Shambhu Jamatia of Birchandra Monu village near Shantirbazar.