People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 41

October 19, 2008



Inauguration Of Rail Service From Agartala

ON 5 October 2008, Agartala was connected to the railway map of the mainland. The station master flagged off the first two daily trains from Agartala railway station. All the platforms were filled with the dream-come-true exhilaration of the people. The six-decade long struggle of the people of Tripura against deprivation and discrimination by the centre and for legitimate development and democratic rights resulted in this success.

About sixty years after the accession of the princely state of Tripura to the Indian Union in October 1949, the service of Indian Railways was extended to the state with the maiden run of Lumding Express and Silchar Passenger from Agartala on October 5, 2008. Agartala is the second Northeastern state capital linked to the mainland through rail service.

It was in Pratapgarh, not far away from Agartala railway station, that the first rally demanding railway extension to Tripura right upto Subroom, the southern most tip of the state, took place in December 1951. The rally was addressed by Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed and Comrade Jyoti Basu. The mass movement thus launched was forged ahead by the two CPI(M) MPs of Tripura, Comrade Dasaratha Deb and Comrade Biren Datta. Because of the huge mass movement under their legendary leadership, the first rail trundled into Dharmanagar, North Tripura, bordering Assam in 1964. The struggle has since been intensified amid the Congress party’s adamant apathy at the centre as well as its obstinate opposition in the state. But the mounting pressure of the mass movement made the Janata Party government at the centre bow to the demand by granting the railway extension project upto North Tripura’s Kumarghat, just 32 kilometres from Dharmanagar. A youth brigade under the leadership of DYFI launched a march to Delhi programme to press for the demand of extension of railway in 1985. Spanning another decade, at long last, the Deve Gowda - led

government at the centre granted the railway extension project to Agartala in 1996.

The trial run on the 110 kilometres extended railway to Agartala was carried out on June 29 this year, followed by the fitness certificate issued by the NF Railway Safety Commission on August 6. Yet the inauguration and introduction of train service continued to be kept in abeyance for an indefinite period on the plea that the prime minister is preoccupied with other activities. The sustained pressure put up on the Rail minister Lalu Prasad Yadav by the chairman of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways and CPI(M) parliamentary group leader Basudeb Acharya alongwith three Tripura MPs Bajuban Reang, Khagen Das and Matilal Sarkar, made the railway authorities decide to advance the introduction to the eve of the Durga Puja festival in October from December as contemplated earlier. Such eleventh hour decision caused certain infrastructural lapses in the facilities of the Agartala railway station, putting to inconvenience to some extent the huge number of persons purchasing the passenger or platform tickets.

Appreciating the landmark introduction of rail service from Agartala, Basudeb Acharya telephoned from Kolkata and looked forward to a speedy extension of broad-gauge rail track on the Silchar-Agartala section without which the integration of Tripura with the mainland’s railway network would remain half-finished and hamstrung. He also opined that a formal inauguration of this memorable event would have showed due honour to the six-decade long mass movement as well as the overwhelming impulse and emotion of the state populace in favour of the national integration through the railways.

Be that as it may, now the destitution and decrepitude of Tripura due to its geographical position is a thing of the past. The people of Tripura under the able leadership of Left Front government shall press ahead with the mass movement for railway extension to Subroom just 74 kilometres from Chittagong port in Bangladesh. It should no longer be a distant dream for Tripura to become a commercial and communication hub of South-East Asia with railway extension upto Subroom and the building of a bridge on river Pheni linking it with Bangladesh.

Results of the bye-election to the Local Bodies

Bye-elections to some vacant seats of local elected bodies – three seats of Tripura tribal areas autonomous district council, two seats of panchayat zilla parishad, eight seats of panchayat samity, four seats of nagar panchayat, one seat of Agartala municipal council, 116 seats of gram panchayat, and 33 seats of ADC village committee were held on 27 September, 2008. Bye-election process started with the Left Front candidates winning uncontested 32 seats of the total of 167 seats of all categories. The opposition Congress party and its electoral ally, the outlawed extremist organisation NLFT’s over ground political wing, INPT tried their utmost to scuttle the poll process by various means including legal hurdles. But the state’s pre-eminently democratic forces of peace and progress led by the Left Front, easily overcame such obstacles and elections to the remaining 135 seats were held on 27 September 2008, amid a traditionally trouble-free and festive atmosphere with above 82 per cent turn out on the average. Counting of polls started on 1 October last as scheduled and information of the victory of the Left Front candidates steadily came out of the 33 counting booths right from 9.00 am amidst the roaring cheers of activists and supporters. Spontaneous marches with victorious candidates in the forefront were taken out at several places. The bye-election saw the Left Front increasing the margin of victory, wresting 12 seats from the opposition with the opposition wresting five from the Left Front. Following are the results of the bye-elections.

Name of the Local body

No of

vacant seats

Seats won by

CPI(M) & Left Front







Zilla Parishad



Panchayat Samity




Gram Panchayat





ADC village committee





Agartala Municipality



Nagar Panchayats









* Share of Left Front GP seats: (CPI(M)-152, SP-1, FB-1, Left Front supported Ind-1)

Of the gram panchayat and village committee seats where bye-elections were held, Congress had 22 seats( GP-21, VC-1) and INPT had 2 seats in village committees earlier. After the bye-elections, Congress lost 12 seats and INPT 1.

The state Left Front committee has congratulated the electorate and the activists for the spectacular sweep by the Left Front candidates in the bye-election. This is a strong verdict of the people in favour of the Left Front government’s on going development drive statewide, said CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar. Left Front statement also underscores the reflection of the common man’s intense resentment against the anti-people policies of the UPA government, its subservience to the US imperialism and softness to communalism, in the electoral trouncing of the Congress-INPT combine.