The left alliance led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday, March 12, announced its candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Tripura slated to take place in two phases on April 11 and April 18. Relying on the old guards, CPI(M) announced that Jitendra Chaudhury and Shankar Prasad Dutta will contest from East Tripura and West Tripura, respectively. Both are sitting Members of Parliament from the state. Left Front Convenor Bijan Dhar announced the decision in a press conference in Agartala.
Rejecting any possibility of an electoral alliance with the Congress, Dhar said that the party will contest the elections alone and expected that the people of the state will elect the candidates again in order to build an alternative government. He emphasised that the alternate government can only be elected by strengthening the left forces in the country. Launching a scathing attack at the Bharatiya Janata Party, Dhar claimed that the saffron party has only brought violence to the state and failed miserably in protecting the livelihoods of dalits and tribals in the country.
He said, "Dalits, farmers and tribal people were worst hit during the last five years of NDA government’s rule. Unemployment is increasing severely and farmer suicides are on the roll. There were numerous scams committed in the NDA regime. This government has to go and an alternative government should replace it."
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Shankar Prasad Dutta, the candidate from East Tripura, has more charges to press against BJP- RSS combine in the state. Talking to NewsClick, Dutta argued that BJP has failed the aspirations of common people who were looking for respite against the misrule of the Congress in 2014. He said, "I want to ask where are the two crore jobs? Have peasants got remunerative prices 1.5 times more than input cost? It is necessary to oust this government if we want to save our institutions. What happened to RBI, CBI and Supreme Court?"
The state, which will go to polls in the first and second phase of Lok Sabha Elections, is expected to witness a three-cornered contest among the CPI(M), Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party amid high chances of violence.
BJP which came to power in the state last year was accused of inciting violence against its political opponents. While it succeeded in sweeping the civic and gram panchayat polls, the opposition maintained the results were 'farce' and only muscle power dominated during the entire election process. Even the left parties in a memorandum to the Election Commission of India, argued that the environment in the state was not conducive for fair elections without deployment of central security forces.
However, left front candidates expect that things will be different this time under the direct control of the Election Commission. Dutta said, "Civic and gram panchayat elections were conducted by the state election commission. The Election Commission has assured that there will be a level playing field this time.”
Dutta, who joined the student movement led by then Tripura state student federation, said it is only the left front which can bring development to the tribal population in the state. He emphasised, “The Forest Rights Act was introduced throughout the country under the pressure from left parties. But we see the same legislation was weakened by BJP in recent years. Similarly, it tried introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill only to create a communal division in the region and this is why we are urging the people to vote for the left for an alternative government."
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