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Tripura elections: In Manik Sarkar’s seat, two women candidates say they can beat him

Manik Sarkar, Tripura’s longest-serving chief minister, is fighting for a fifth consecutive term and is locked in a quadrangular contest in his home constituency of Dhanpur.

Tripura Elections 2018 Updated: Feb 14, 2018 11:03 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Hindustan Times, Agartala
Tripura elections,Manik Sarkar,Left government
Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar addresses an election campaign rally at Gandhigram on February 3, 2018. (PTI Photo)

Two women candidates from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress claim that they have a fair chance of defeating Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar in the assembly elections on February 18.

Sarkar is locked in a quadrangular contest in his home constituency of Dhanpur, where Jahir Uddin from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is the fourth candidate.

Sarkar, Tripura’s longest-serving chief minister is fighting for a fifth consecutive term and is hopeful that the “peace-loving people would exercise their franchise to elect a Left government for the eighth time”. But his opponents – Pratima Bhowmik of the BJP and Congress candidate Lakshmi Nag – say they can beat him.

Pratima Bhowmik of the BJP (left) and Congress candidate Lakshmi Nag.

This is the second time that Pratima Bhowmik, a senior BJP leader and also party’s general secretary, is contesting against Sarkar. She had fought against him in 1998 for the Dhanpur seat and lost. Sarkar went on to become the CM for the first time in 1998 after the victory.

With a population of over 43,000 Dhanapur which falls in Sonamura sub division is heavily populated by Muslims. That has not deterred Bhowmik, who is hoping for a saffron surge fuelled by the people’s anger against the government for under development.

“The chief minister’s constituency is devoid of proper civic amenities like drinking water, healthcare, road, and educational institutions despite the Left Front being in power for so many years. People have grudges against Sarkar for under-development in this constituency. People want a change now at any cost,” Bhowmik said.

She promised to solve all the civic problems if she wins the elections and said she would set up a college.

“It is a direct fight between the CPM and the BJP. There are attempts to suppress our campaign, but it would be of no use. People irrespective of their religion, caste or creed, want to end Manikraj,” she added.

The Congress, which is playing catch-up in the elections, faces an uphill task to defeat the Left and check the BJP’s growth.

Congress candidate Lakshmi Nag said that deprivation under Left regime and communal attitude of the saffron party would make space for the grand old party.

“The Left failed to improve the people’s lives in these years. Manik Sarkar never thought of his own home constituency which has made the people look for an alternative party. And BJP deals in communal or divisive politics. So people have only one choice left – Congress that believes in people’s welfare,” Nag said.

If she wins, she would give priority to generate employment, enhance unemployment allowance and waive farmers’ loans, she said.

Nag came into politics in her college days by becoming member of Congress’s student wing, NSUI. She became an MLA for first time after Tripura attained statehood in 1972. She was also the minister for Social Welfare and Social Education in 1977 for a few months.

First Published: Feb 13, 2018 19:59 IST