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Tripura Elections: All Set for Triangular Fight, Thousands Turn up at Left-Cong Rallies

The Left Front has called on its supporters and common people to take on any violent resistance to free and fair elections.
Red deluge at Subroom during poll campiagn on February 13.

Red deluge at Subroom during poll campiagn on February 13.

Agartala: Election campaigning came to a halt in Tripura on Tuesday evening. In the last leg of the campaign, a massive rally of red flag carriers took place on February 13 at Sabroom, some 130 km away from Tripura's capital Agartala and situated at the southernmost part of the state. People flocked there in large numbers to hear what their leaders say at Sabroom, from where CPI(M) State Committee Secretary Jitendra Choudhury is contesting.

Jitendra Choudhury and former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar warned people of "impending BJP terror" on the polling day.

"Raise people's resistance battalion on the day of the voting," Choudhury said and called upon supporters to maintain night vigil in all the Assembly segments of Tripura. He also asked the voters to go to the voting centre in groups to face any eventuality if they are stopped on their way to vote. 

Communist Party of India (Marxist) polit bureau member Manik Sarkar told the attendees to keep the people's forces active on the election day and resist every attempt at rigging.

The meeting, held at Melarmath ground on the banks of river Feni, saw a massive turnout of people in support of Jitendra Choudhury, the candidate from Sabroom assembly segment, and Prabhat Choudhury, the candidate from ST reserve seat Manu. People from Srinagar, Tekka Tulsi, Harbatali, Bhangnamari, Betaga, and other villages came to the meeting venue in large numbers, forming a big march. People from Taikumba, Taichama, Kalirbazaar, Sakbari, Kaladhepa, and a few other South Tripura villages met at the Forest Office junction and then made another huge march.

Along with the CPI(M) leaders, Congress state general secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Congress leader Alka Lamba also spoke at the meeting. For this election, the Left has joined forces with its rival Congress to create a united opposition. 

On the same day, a major meeting was also held in the neighbouring Shantir Bazaar area in support of local Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate Satyajit Reang. The meeting was addressed by Manik Sarkar, amongst others. At the meeting, Parikkhit Murasingh, a former Autonomous District Council (ADC) member, told NewsClick that he is confident about the Left Front candidate's win at Shantir Bazaar this time. "The BJP has been relegated to the third place; our main contest is with Tipra Motha," he said. 

The rise of Tipra Motha has made this election a triangular fight. Led by Pradyot Debbarma, a descendant of the former royal dynasty of Manikya, Tipra Motha claims to champion the cause of tribals. There are 20 reserved seats for Schedule Tribes in the Assembly.

In Amarpur, another election rally took place on February 9, and was addressed by CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat. A flurry of red flags covered the school grounds where the gathering was held. 

CPI(M) polit bureau member Brinda Karat leading a march in Tripura.

CPI(M) polit bureau member Brinda Karat leading a march in Tripura. 

Amarpur, which was the capital of the former princely state of Tripura before India's independence, has allegedly seen unimaginable violence from the BJP, according to Gouri Deb Choudhury, a housewife who used to keep the CPI(M) publication Daily Desher Katha at her home. She stays in Amarpur's Rangamati, which is also the epicentre of attacks during the last five years and has seen the vandalisation of houses. She claimed she has faced multiple instances of dacoity for political reasons at her home. She still manages to take the Daily Desher Katha in her bag, but keeps it concealed. She went on to say that the Left sympathiser shop owners at the local market were fined to the tune of Rs 20,000-40,000 to be able to keep their shop open. 

Amarpur earlier used to have a cable TV channel called Khobor Saradin. After the change of office in the state, the office was attacked and vandalised and instruments worth Rs 37 lakhs, including SLR cameras and studio set-up, were allegedly looted by BJP workers. 

Amarpur had earlier seen militancy, but everybody, including Gouri Deb Choudhury, thinks that the intensity of the terror in the last five years is more than the intensity of the militancy and the resultant fear. 

In the presence of thousands, Karat urged the people to take the BJP's violence head-on. She highlighted the plight of a Left volunteer present at the venue, Bijon Das, who was twice nearly beaten to death and had remained in the hospital for months. She also said that the central government is talking about Amrit Kaal of Azadi and the BJP is worshipping Gandhi-killer Godse in different parts of the country.

In the Hapania area of Agartala under Dukli subdivision, under which another violence epicentre Badharghat falls, more than 500 cases of arson have been allegedly inflicted by the BJP against the Left activists of the area. 

The local Dukli divisional office of the CPI(M) was open all the time despite being attacked nine times and being torched once by the BJP hooligans, alleged Subrata Chakraborty, CPI(M) state secretariat member whose hometown is in Dukli. 

Arati Nandi, a CPI(M) whole-timer from Dukli, who was forbidden to move out of her home after the change of power in the state in the last five years. It was only after the announcement of elections in Tripura that the people heaved a sigh of relief, she said, talking to NewsClick. Led by the Left Front candidates, Ramu Das [CPI(M)] of Pratapgarh, Partha Ranjan Sarkar (Forward Block) of Badharghat and Congress candidate of Suryamani segment Sushanta Chakraborty, supporters could finally come en mass to a rally of CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury in Hapania on February 10.

Bahdur Reang, at the Birchandramanu rally, said that it is certain that the main fight in Shantirbazaar and Birchandramanu will be between the Tipra Motha and the Leftists. "BJP is all set to bite the dust in this three-way contest," he said and added confidently that the CPI candidate of Shantirbazaar will win this time. In the state, there is a wave of change, he said and mentioned that he is not particularly a CPI(M) supporter but is saying this as an independent observer to the election process of the state.

In Korbuk of Gomati district, at a rally on February 11, they played the "tulung tulung" tune, a popular tribal musical piece, and an election song of the Left modelled after the tune was played at the venue, to which tribal men and women were seen dancing. "We are optimistic about the victory of Left forces this year," said the Tribal dancers in support of their candidate Priyomani Debbarma, a young CPI(M) activist. 

Interestingly, when the BJP is faltering to bring a couple of thousand viewers to its election rallies comprising the Prime Minister of the country, then the performance of the Left-Congress combine bringing thousands to its election rallies signifies a certain wind of change, said several political observers in the state.

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