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After 5 Years of BJP Terror Rule, We see a Wave in Favour of Change in Tripura: Jitendra Choudhury

Under BJP, there has been no investment, be it in agriculture or industry, says the CPI(M) state secretary, ahead of voting for Assembly polls on February 16.
After 5 Years of BJP Terror Rule, we see a Wave in Favour of Change in Tripura: Jitendra Choudhury

Cpim tripura state secretary jitendra choudhury

The countdown to elections for the 60-member Tripura Assembly on February 16 has begun. While the incumbent BJP-IPFT is straining hard to retain power, the Left-Congress alliance is upbeat about their prospects, with another strong player, Tipra Motha, also gaining more ground. CPI (M)’s state secretary and well known tribal leader Jitendra Choudhury spoke with NewsClick in Karbuk recently, about the pathetic condition of the common people in the small North-Eastern state who are reeling under BJP-IPFT terror. Edited excerpts:

Sandip Chakraborty: What is the condition of Tripura at present?

Jitendra Choudhury: In the past five years, unimaginable terror has been inflicted on the common people of Tripura by the BJP-IPFT forces. It is like a big stone being thrusted down their throats, which the people have had to tolerate for so many days. This election is not only to build a new government, but an attempt to move out of the condition wherein democracy has been butchered in the state.. The common people are seeing this election as an opportunity to make things better. That is the impression we are getting seeing the determination of people across the state. There is a wave in favour of change.

This is a success of the Opposition parties. The valiant attitude of the common people has not come out of the blue. During the past five years, the CPI(M) was standing beside the common people. This is a reflection of the hard work done by the party during the most trying times.

SC: What about Tipra Motha, the popular tribal party?

JC: Tipra Motha has influence in some reserved seats of the state, and though some people have moved toward Tipra Motha, on the whole it reflects the erosion of the ruling BJP in the state. The confidence of the people in the ruling party is on the wane with each passing day. A sizable number of those who voted for BJP in the earlier elections will be returning back to the Left Front, and a small portion of those  voters are siding with Tipra Motha. They feel that the aspirations of the tribal people of the state will be fulfilled by Tipra Motha. A section of tribal youths are also with Tipra Motha.

SC: How has the turnaround in mood been made possible?

JC: There have been hundreds of attacks in the state and BJP has blatantly used the administrative and police machinery for hounding common people. People’s rights have been snatched away. The CPI(M) as a party has not surrendered to these attacks even in those trying times. More than 400 of our party offices and more than 150 mass organisation offices were vandalised and torched. At one time, it was envisaged that CPI(M) and Leftists would be wiped out from Tripura.

But, prior to this election, every closed party office has been reopened. The party offices that were torched down or snatched away by the BJP cannot be opened for obvious reasons. Our experience is that if you can stay with the people without surrendering and lowering your head, and if the party, in whichever form, works to fulfill the interests of the common people despite all obstacles, then people don’t abandon them. The upbeat mood regarding the election is a reflection of this. You have to stay with the common people. People’s ears and eyes are wide open, and at the right time, they will respond to the right call.

SC: What about PM Modi’s presence in the present election?

JC: In Gomoti district, where the Prime Minister is coming to campaign, there is now a dearth of people attending rallies of even the PM. Earlier, when he used to come to the state, there used to be a huge turnout. This election is a test by fire for the ruling BJP, for it has to protect its turf . But even after making hundreds of efforts, the BJP is unable to draw people to their meetings in large numbers. This means that the campaign that was started in 2018 by using Modi’s face and by giving false promises, using people as a bait, captured  votes, but today, after five years, the common people are aware that he has cheated the people of the state. “We have nothing to hear from you for a second time”, that is the feeling PM Modi is encountering.

The lacklustre show in PM’s meetings indicates mass rejection of the PM, even when vehicles and food packets are being given free, and in some places, even money is being given.

SC::What is your take oBJP’s promises and performance?

JC: The BJP government has not fulfilled its promises, not a single one. Tripura is an agriculture-intensive society and it is the largest producer of natural rubber in the country. There has been no investment, be it in agriculture or industry, in the state. The BJP had promised multiple projects, giving work to the unemployed, which has not been fulfilled.

When law and order is a casualty and corruption invades public space, then  corruption becomes institutionalised. The rule of law is not maintained in panchayats, PWD departments, all of which are governed from BJP offices. The money is going to them instead of the common people.

There has not been improvement in a single sector. The only sector showing advancement is drugs, such as ‘fancydeal’, which are now easily available and taken by the youth.

Also, people are facing immense hardship to arrange two square meals, which was unthinkable in the earlier era.

SC: How have the tribal communities fared under BJP rule?

JC: Tribal people are not well off now in the state. TheTipra Motha is talking of a separate state, which won't happen given the fact that the geographical position of Tripura does not permit that. The rise of Motha is result of the desolate feeling in the tribal communityOverall, the condition of tribals is extremely bad. There is no development, no roads, no electricity, no education, no health centres in many tribal villages of the state. Most of the erstwhile infrastructure has been demolished in these five years. The Autonomous District Councils or ADCs are not getting due funds. In the last elections, it was promised that grants to ADCs would be increased. This year, too, the BJP has promised additional resources. But the ground reality is that ADCare being choked to death, which is reflecting in the poor conditions of the tribal community.

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