CREATING a major milestone in the history of the democratic movement in Tripura, polling in the 10th Assembly elections of the state recorded 91.86 per cent following the election held on February 23, 2008. The state electorate exercised their franchise in an unprecedented festive fight of the people against all odds, unprecedented not only in the country, but also within Tripura where trouble-free polls in carnival atmosphere is the tradition.
The people of Tripura through the peaceful poll gave a befitting reply to the campaign of deception and disinformation carried out by the Congress party and its ally, the outlawed extremists' political wing INPT, aided by a section of mercenary media miscreants and militants. Even the central observer of the Congress party and union minister Prithviraj Chauhan making a u-turn from his 24-hour earlier statement, stated that the people's massive turnout in almost all the seats of the state, is a landmark in the world's democratic election scenario. Incidentally, hours before commencement of the polls, Chauhan charged the CPI(M) with massively terrorising the state's electorate. He, however, interpreted the electorate's massive turn out as the harbinger of the poll verdict in favour of Congress-INPT combine, a stock interpretation of the Congress leadership in Tripura, designed to whitewash the unprecedented falsification of polls with which the Congress-TUJS combine swept all the elections during its barbarically semi-fascist jungle rule in 1988-93.
In fact, peaceful and historic turnout in the 10th Assembly elections in Tripura was the culmination of the people's robust and rousing rebuff and rebuttal of the Congress-INPT combine's two-pronged campaign, campaign of terror making use of armed extremists and miscreants in tribal areas on one hand, and campaign of deception and disinformation by making use of a section of mercenary media in urban areas, especially in the state capital, on the other. In the 2003 elections, Congress-INPT combine bagged 19 seats with such two-pronged tactics, emboldening it to take to the same tactics for 2008 too, hoping against hope for anti-incumbency factor against the Left Front government to capture power.
But a sea-change had taken place all over Tripura in the meantime. The Left Front restored the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council in 2005 from armed extremists stranglehold brought about by the INPT high-jacking at extremist gunpoint the year 2000 ADC polls. The restoration was the result of the ceaseless three-pronged counter-insurgency struggle of the Left Front government by ideological, administrative and developmental means. The Left Front's restoration of ADC by a massive mandate at the first ADC village committee elections in 2006 which finally turned the tide against the extremists in Tripura through democratic local-self governance spreading to the grass roots all over the ADC areas and making possible the implementation of the development programmes in the ADC areas languishing in the darkness of backwardness for decades.
At the same time the breaking of the backbone of extremists in Tripura, enabled the pro-people Left Front government to carry on massive welfare and development programmes with renewed vigour all over the state in multifarious sectors including education, healthcare, agriculture and communication bringing about a sea-change in Tripura in all spheres. The Left Front government thus came to be regarded as synonymous with peace, progress and prosperity in sharp contrast to the retrogressive ravenous and rapacious track-record of the Congress party, seriously aggravated by its alliance with the INPT, the political mask of the outlawed and anti-national extremists.
It is in this perspective that the historic turnout of the state electorate in the 10th Assembly elections in Tripura is to be viewed. This election saw an unprecedented upsurge of the people of Tripura to vote with a vengeance to make amends for the earlier high-jacking of the rural or remote area polls at extremist gunpoint on the one hand, and the earlier hoodwinking of a huge section of the urban people through campaign of maligning and misinformation.
The people had to confront yet another formidable odd in the form of a "copybook vote" claimed to be carried out by the Election Commission in Tripura in this election. Hardest hit were the female voters that had a vast presence in each polling booth. Although the tremendously complicated and time-consuming system in the name of "copybook vote" made a sizeable section of voters to leave the booths in disgust and despair, numerous voters, dauntlessly determined to exercise their constitutional right did not fight shy of even waiting in queues till midnight to cast their vote in several booths.
The democratic-minded people of Tripura will have to wait for another 12 days for the counting of votes slated for March 7, 2008.
LAST MINUTE DESPERATION OF EXTREMISTS
Four CPI(M) activists were abducted at gunpoint by extremists on February 21 from two remote villages of Chawmanu of Dhalai district. The villages are situated besides Gobindabari, where a total of 60 Photo Identity Cards have yet been snatched away by extremists since notification of the 10th Assembly election in the state. At about 9 a.m. yesterday, a group of around eight extremists of BNCT, outfit of the outlawed NLFT(BM), raided the villages and abducted four CPI(M) activists including a polling agent of CPI(M) candidate of Chawmanu constituency. The other three are the candidate's nephew, the village committee chairman's son and a village committee member. Incidentally, village committee is the village panchayat equivalent under Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council.
CPI(M) state secretariat member Gautam Das vehemently protested the violent atrocities of the extremist henchmen of the Congress-INPT combine in certain remote areas of the state. He said these are designed to secure a political mileage and it exposed the nefarious nexus a couple of days ahead of the poll. He asserted that the people of the state are determined to foil such terror tactics at any cost and form the 6th Left Front government with a most massive mandate.
Incidentally, about 50 CPI(M) activists and supporters were injured on February 20 in a violent raid at four remote villages of Khowai Sub-Division, West Tripura by extremist gunmen and Congress-INPT goons. Out of those injured, 28 people are now undergoing treatment in G B Hospital, Agartala with grievous injuries mostly head injuries. The villagers were also threatened with death unless they voted in favour of the Congress-INPT combine.