For this northeastern state, it’s a battle of epic proportions | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

For this northeastern state, it’s a battle of epic proportions

ByPriyanka Deb Barman
Apr 15, 2024 07:45 PM IST

In Tripura’s two constituencies, a total of 18 candidates are in the fray, though traditionally, the party in power in the state has won the LS polls

Aabki Baar, 400 Paar”: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seen raising the slogan during their campaign for the two Lok Sabha seats of Tripura, West Tripura constituency and East Tripura constituency, alongside claims that the opposition candidates will not cross 100,000 votes in either constituency.

Agartala: People attend an election campaign rally of Tripura chief minister Manik Saha, Tipra Motha Party (TMP) supremo Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barma and BJP candidate from West Tripura constituency Biplab Kumar Deb ahead of Lok Sabha elections, (PTI FILE)(HT_PRINT) PREMIUM
Agartala: People attend an election campaign rally of Tripura chief minister Manik Saha, Tipra Motha Party (TMP) supremo Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barma and BJP candidate from West Tripura constituency Biplab Kumar Deb ahead of Lok Sabha elections, (PTI FILE)(HT_PRINT)

Chief minister Dr Manik Saha, BJP president Rajib Bhattacharya, its alliance partners, TIPRA Motha founder Pradyot Kishore Debbarma who are campaigning for their candidates, are highlighting 10 years’ achievements of the Modi government in all ways possible, from traditional door-to-door conversations to digital campaigns.

In contrast, the opposition INDIA bloc where CPIM and Congress shared their candidates in both seats, claimed during its campaign that the BJP's policies are not for the welfare of the working class, farmers and unemployed and instead, communal polarization is the weapon of choice for the BJP.

“Despite having differences, we formed an alliance with Congress for the sake of the country, its Constitution and democracy. We appeal to the people to cast their mandate in favour of the INDIA bloc in both the seats to save the Constitution, and democracy,” said CPIM state secretary and former Lok Sabha MP Jitendra Chaudhury.

Congress Working Committee ( CWC) member Sudip Roy Barman termed the 2024 Lok Sabha polls a “dharmayuddha” and compared the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with Kauravas and the INDIA bloc with Pandavas, the opposing sides of the epic Mahabharat.

"The country is facing dharmayuddha today. Though Kauravas had a huge army and Pandavas had few numbers in the battle of Mahabharata, dharma was with the Pandavas. Now in the national poll, many people are with the Kauravas, but nyaay and dharma are with us. The truth will win and the adharma will fall. We appeal to all our supporters and common people to join the roadshow and give their mandate in favour of INDIA bloc candidates,” said Roy Barman.

Both parties are on the last leg of campaigning before the first phase of polling on April 19. Star campaigners including Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and others have visited Tripura.

Of the total seven phases of parliamentary polls, Tripura will poll in the first and second phases — on April 19 and 26. There are 3,350 polling stations across the state. An additional polling station at the Laugang area in the South district was also included for the Bru voters.

A total of 18 candidates with nine in each constituency are in fray. Two of them are women candidates, both are contestants in the East Tripura constituency (reserved for Scheduled Tribe).

Though many independent candidates filed their nominations in both seats, the electorates would witness a direct contest between the ruling BJP and INDIA alliance in both constituencies.

In the West constituency, former chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb would be contesting from the BJP side against former legislator and Congress president Ashish Kumar Saha on the side of opposition INDIA Bloc.

In the East constituency, Kriti Devi Debbarman, the princess of the erstwhile Manikya dynasty of Tripura and the older sister of Pradyot Kishore will contest on a BJP ticket against former CPIM legislator and veteran leader Rajendra Reang.

Five government employees were suspended for breaching the model code of conduct (MCC) while another two security personnel were suspended for negligence towards their duties.

Seventy companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed across the state to maintain law and order situation and to ensure peaceful Lok Sabha polls.

According to political experts, Biplab Kumar Deb has successfully regained his fan base across all age groups even after he was not in state power for two years. His popularity tops many top BJP leaders today. Spending 16 years in Delhi, Biplab Deb returned to Tripura in 2015 as an in-charge of BJP's Maha Jansampark Abhiyan barely three years before the state's Assembly polls.

A year later, he became BJP state president and in 2018, his party came to power in the state for the first time in alliance with a regional indigenous political party Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT). Later, in 2022, Deb resigned from his CM post and was elected as the lone Rajya Sabha MP from Tripura.

Ashish Saha won assembly polls in 2013 on a Congress ticket and later switched over to the All India Trinamool Congress party in 2016 and a year later, he moved to the BJP and won assembly polls in 2018. However, he later resigned from his legislator post and then the party before the assembly polls in 2023 to join the Congress party again. He lost the last assembly polls from Bardowali seat against incumbent chief minister Dr Manik Saha. A year ago, Saha replaced Birajit Sinha from his party president post.

For the East constituency, the contest will be between a seasoned politician (the CPIM candidate) and a political greenhorn (the BJP candidate) who contested and lost the Chhattisgarh assembly poll in 2018 as an independent candidate.

Kriti's selection as candidate raised several questions from the opposition as they claimed she had no political experience till her arrival to the state barely two weeks after a tripartite agreement was signed between the Centre, Tripura government and TIPRA Motha in New Delhi to find a solution to all issues of the indigenous people of Tripura relating to history, land rights, political rights, economic development, identity, culture, and language.

Rajendra Reang was a former legislator of the Kanchanpur Assembly constituency in 2018. Earlier, he served as an executive member of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).

But the TIPRA Motha is ruling in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas and naturally has a stronghold in the tribal-dominated areas.

In the tribal areas, the royal factor has also shown to be effective since the parents of Pradyot Kishore, Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma and Bibhu Kumari Devi became Congress parliamentarians. Kirit Bikram defeated Communist leader Dasharatha Dev in Lok Sabha polls. Dev later served as chief minister from 1993-98.

In Tripura's parliamentary poll history, the seats are mostly won by the party in power, however, Communist leaders like Dasharatha Deb and Biren Dutta became parliamentarians during the Congress regime much before the Communist Party formed its government for the first time in 1978.

In 2019, the BJP won both the Lok Sabha seats with Pratima Bhoumik emerging winner securing 51.77 percent vote share from the West Tripura constituency and Rebati Tripura getting 46.12 percent vote share from the East Tripura seat.

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