Tripura polls: Discontent arises within parties over candidates’ list
TIPRA chief Pradyot Kishore Debbarma appealed to people to become united to contest the polls and said that a section of leaders was seen interested more in getting tickets than to work for the interests of the tribal community
With just weeks ahead of Tripura assembly polls, differences have erupted among political parties over the denial of tickets, leading to the departure of several former legislators, and former poll candidates of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist).
After the parties in Tripura officially released the candidates’ list, an internal feud within the parties came to light. Videos of party workers allegedly damaging booth offices also surfaced on social media.
After finding his name was not on the candidates’ list, BJP’s sitting MLA from Krishnapur constituency Dr Atul Debbarma left the party and filed his nominations as an independent candidate. When asked, he said that he was not consulted regarding the list.
“I was not consulted once before removing my name. Now I will contest as an independent candidate,” he said.
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A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member, Atul Debbarma worked as a doctor at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and later quit to contest elections and won in the 2018 assembly polls on a BJP ticket. BJP replaced him with the party’s Scheduled Tribes (ST) Morcha leader Bikash Debbarma.
Similarly, two more BJP leaders, Shyamal Bhakta from the Kamalasagar constituency in the Sepahijala district and Niharendu Debnath from Jubarajnagar constituency in the North district resigned from the party for not being on the BJP’s candidates’ list.
Shyamal is also contesting as an independent from his seat. He alleged that he was assured to give a ticket from Kamalasagar but the party instead named West Tripura Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati Antara Deb Sarkar.
A BJP leader who was supposed to get a ticket for the polls said that though the party has a positive response in all the 60 seats, its selection of candidates and seat-sharing adjustment with the IPFT had done some damage.
A BJP leader on the condition of anonymity said that the seats where BJP has good prospects were shared with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT). “The leaders having no connection to the roots have been fielded while promising candidates were deprived in some seats,” he said.
The BJP fielded candidates in 55 seats leaving five to the IPFT. However, the IPFT fielded another candidate in the sixth seat in contrast to their seat agreement with BJP.
On the issue, chief minister Dr Manik Saha said, “These are small jerks. These will be solved soon.”
While the opposition CPM and the Congress came together and agreed to a seat-sharing adjustment following a brief discussion, it led the CPM to pay price by losing one sitting legislator Mabashwar Ali to the BJP.
Ali, a sitting legislator of the Kailasahar constituency, joined the BJP shortly after his name was dropped from the candidates’ list by the CPM and was given to Congress president Birajit Sinha as part of seat sharing formula. Sinha lost the 2018 polls from this seat despite he had a record of victory in many Assembly polls.
Though the CPM shared 13 seats with Congress, the latter fielded 17 candidates which lead to a heated discussion at the party’s Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting.
On the issue, Congress said that it will contest 16 out of 17 seats and declined to withdraw any candidate.
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“We have shared seats to remove BJP from power. We are confident that our alliance partners will understand our side and take a required step,” said Congress legislator Sudip Roy Barman, also the candidate of the Agartala constituency.
The Left Front also dropped several veteran ministers, including deputy opposition leader Badal Choudhury, sitting MLA Tapan Chakraborty, Bhanulal Saha, former ministers Shahid Choudhury, Manik Dey, and Aghore Debbarma owing to health issues while former chief minister Manik Sarkar himself took relief to spare more time in organizational activities.
According to sources in CPM, a section of loyal Left activists are sceptic regarding partnership with the Congress due to the long-term violence and tension between the two parties in Tripura and the outcome of the CPM- Congress alliances in West Bengal.
Similarly, a section of local Congress leaders are dissatisfied due to seat sharing with the Left after the Congress didn’t field anyone in the South district giving free space to the Left. CPM state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury was listed to contest from the Sabroom constituency in the district.
Amidst the discontent, some Congress leaders, including veteran party leader Dilip Choudhury in South district quit the party and joined Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Though TIPRA Motha saw no major resignations over the candidates’ list, party sources said that some senior leaders are unhappy after they were not given their expected tickets.
Also Read: Tripura polls: TIPRA Motha announces 2nd list of candidates for 10 seats
TIPRA chief Pradyot Kishore Debbarma appealed to people to become united to contest the polls and said that a section of leaders was seen interested more in getting tickets than to work for the interests of the tribal community.
The TIPRA Motha fielded 42 candidates with young faces in most of the seats excluding Pradyot Kishore.
After a series of talks with the union home minister and other central leaders over a Constitutional solution to their Tipraland demand failed, Pradyot announced to contest the polls without allying with anyone amidst appeal from the Left and Congress to jointly contest the polls.
The state elections for the 60-member assembly will take place on February 27 and the counting of votes will take place on March 2.