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Tripura assembly elections: Left looks to keep its red fort intact

CPI(M) says people will reward it for the work it has done while the BJP argues it will gain from the PM’s ‘developmental model’.

Tripura Elections 2018 Updated: Feb 18, 2018 07:09 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Agartala, Hindustan Times
Tripura assembly elections,Bharatiya Janata Party,CPI(M)
Polling personnel leave for election duties with VVPAT machines from a distribution centre in Agartala on the eve of assembly polls on Saturday. (PTI)

More than 25 lakh voters will decide on Sunday whether Tripura continues to be a CPI(M) bastion or if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manages to make inroads in the northeastern state.

In India’s electoral history, the country’s dominant Left party, the CPI(M), and the right-wing BJP have never been face-to-face in poll battle.

However, political developments in Tripura in 2016 and 2017 have set the stage for their first direct contest, with the saffron outfit emerging as the key Opposition in the Left bastion.

The CPI(M)-dominated Left Front has been in power in the state since 1978 except for 11 years (1972-1977 and 1988-1993) when the Congress and the breakaway Congress led by five chief ministers ruled the state.

A day before polling, both CPI(M) and BJP expressed confidence over their prospects, with the ruling party saying that people will reward it for the work it has carried out and the saffron party stating it will gain because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “developmental model”.

In the lead-up to the elections, all top leaders of CPI(M), BJP, Congress and TMC participated in the hectic two-month-long campaign that ended on Friday. Modi held two rallies while Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited the state on the last day of the campaign.

CPI(M) leaders, including Sitaram Yechury and other politburo members, also addressed several rallies.

Trinamool Congress, which allied with two tribal-based parties — Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura and National Conference of Tripura — boosted its campaign by roping in leaders and film stars from West Bengal.

The voting will take place for 59 of the 60 assembly seats with voting for Charilam seat being deferred due to the death of sitting legislator and CPI(M) candidate Ramendra Debbarma.

A total of 297 candidates, including 23 women and many Independents, would be testing their electoral fortunes. The Left is contesting in all seats while the BJP will contest on 50 and leaving the remaining for its ally, an indigenous body, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT).

The Congress, which has since 1983 fought the elections in alliance with a tribal-based party, is going alone this time.

The Election Commission has appointed RK Panchanand, former director general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) as special observer to supervise security arrangement on the polling day. Two choppers and one air ambulance have been arranged to meet any emergency.

The 856-km-long Indo-Bangladesh border in Tripura has been sealed and security forces have been deployed to ensure fair polls, the election commission officials said.

“Adequate central and state security forces have been deployed to prevent any untoward occurrence. The voters can exercise their franchise fearlessly,” said chief electoral officer S Tarunikanti.

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 22:43 IST