People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 49

December 05, 2010

 

On to the Civic Poll in Tripura

 

Haripada Das

 

ELECTIONS to the Agartala Municipal Council (AMC) and 15 Nagar Panchayats are scheduled to be held on December 11. As the phases of nomination, scrutiny and withdrawal have been completed, the pattern of contest is amply clear now. A total of 533 candidates are in the fray, seeking election to 229 seats out of a total of 230. One Left Front sponsored CPI(M) candidate has been declared elected unopposed in Khowai Nagar panchayat, following the withdrawal of nomination by the opposition Congress candidate. In most of these urban bodies, the contest is straight between the Left Front and the Congress.

 

In the last civic elections held in 2005, the Left Front had decisively won all the 13 bodies, including the Agartala Municipal Council. As three new Nagar Panchayats were constituted in the interim, for the headquarters of three newly created subdivisions, the total number of civic bodies now stands at 16.

 

To ensure womenís representation in the due proportion, the Left Front government amended the State Municipal Act to provide 50 per cent reservation for women on rotation basis. This has been given effect from the coming polls themselves. This 50 per cent reservation for woman takes care of the statutory reservation for the scheduled tribes and scheduled castes in each body, in proportion to their respective populations. 

 

The Left Front is unitedly contesting in all the 229 seats while the Congress could manage to field its candidates in all seats but one only after shameful factional bickerings. Though the BJP and the Amra Bengali parties are contesting in 57 and 10 seats respectively, most of their candidates are nowhere in the reckoning and the only objective of their contest is to show that they are still in existence. Both the parties are, however, tacitly supporting the Congress. The Trinamul Congress (TMC) has abstained from the contest and is lending support to the Congress. Over the time, the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) has been gradually losing its relevance in the state politics because of the open secret that it is the overground outfit of NLFT extremists. Now it has declared its unconditional support to the Congress, which has since long been allied to them. Thus the Left Front has to fight against the Congress that now represents all the anti-communist, communal and secessionist forces and has the blessings of a large section of the rabidly anti-Left Front print media.

 

LFíS ISSUES

FOR THE POLLS

This election is being held in the backdrop of consecutive landslide victories of the Left Front right from the last assembly election in 2008, followed by the parliamentary elections, the rural panchayat elections in 2009 and, lastly, the TTAADC election earlier this year when the opposition bagged nil.  

 

The main thrust of the Left Frontís poll campaign is focussed on the pro-people development oriented programmes of the state government, peace, harmony and transparency.  

 

In a pamphlet, the Tripura Left Front Committee has appealed to the urban people to maintain the tradition of high political consciousness by electing the Left Front candidates in all the civic bodies, including the Agartala Municipal Council, in order to make Tripura a flourishing state in all respects, sustain the large number of ongoing developmental schemes and preserve the prevailing atmosphere of peace, harmony and tranquility which are prerequisites for any growth and advance.

 

Briefly dealing with the history of the AMC, the pamphlet stated that since its inception through an election in 1951, the Congress did not hold any more election to it till 1977 when the Left Front routed it in the assembly elections. During this long period, there was no scope for the state capitalís people to air their grievances against the lapses in whatever limited civic amenities existed at that time. In 1978, the Left Front government fulfilled its electoral promise to convert the AMC into a body of elected representatives. But the story of the Congress-TUJS coalition regime during 1988-93 is still fresh in the minds of the urban citizens. Immediately after assuming power in February 1988 through large-scale electoral rigging, the Congress-led government dissolved all the elected local bodies including the AMC and the Nagar Panchayats, and handed them over to its touts who then got a free hand to misappropriate large chunks of the fund allotted to them. The Congress-TUJS government never conducted any election to these bodies during its tenure.        

 

The Left Front pamphlet also elaborated the advancements that have taken place in the AMC and other Nagar Panchayat areas. These include construction of wider streets, linkage of all lanes and bylanes with the main roads, construction of concrete bridges, sewerage, development of markets and creation of modernised shopping centres, extension of power and drinking water amenities, shifting up of motor stands from the crowded areas in a town to its outskirts, provision of auto stands and rickshaw stands,  disposal of solid waste, creation of parks, development of slum areas, provision of housing for the poor, and so on. In this connection, the Left Front has asserted that even the opposition parties cannot dispute the spectacular growth and extension of better civic amenities to the citizens during the last five years of the respective bodies. A comparative chart showing the status of civic amenities in 1998 and 2010 is given in the table below.

 

 

 

S. No.

Parameter

Status in 1998

Status in 2010

1

Families

1,04,827

1,71,650

2

Population

4,22,091

6,62,882

3

Black-top roads

442.03 km

745.80 km

4

Pipeline for drinking water

521.91 km

1174.38 km

5

Domestic water connection

23,091

47,186

6

Electricity LT Line

1560.10 km

2753.18 km

7

Electricity consumers

88,573

1,51,308

8

Pucca drains

491.14 km

1006.99 km

9

Town Halls/Community Halls

21

59

10

Super markets

5

23

11

Fish markets

23

39

12

Vegetable markets

21

46

13

ICDS centres

163

823

14

Waste generated

138.19 MT

438.82 MT

15

Dwelling huts (under ULBs)

1,882

4,411

 

The Tripura Urban Employment Project (TUEP) for the urban poor is a new addition to the series of pro-poor programmes of the Left Front government. Like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in rural areas, the urban poor are guaranteed with at least 75 days of work in a year in the AMC and Nagar areas under TUEP. The government exchequer is bearing the entire expenditure for this project.

 

That apart, many proposals are pouring in for beautification of Agartala town and other urban areas. Appropriate measures are being taken to benefit from these attractive ideas to transform the urban into modern conglomerates.

 

CONGRESS

BANKRUPTCY

Each of the civic bodies including the AMC has displayed exemplary accountability by furnishing printed statements of its performance in an open general meeting in each ward; these mentioned the funds received, the expenditures incurred and the assets created during the last five years. In these open meetings, anybody had the opportunity to make comments and suggest improvements.

 

In its poll campaign, on the other hand, the Congress has once more proved its utter bankruptcy and has failed to raise any genuine issue against the Left Front government. Instead of identifying any lapses in fulfilling the electoral plea that the Left Front had made, the Congress is banking upon its old tactic of labelling baseless charges of corruption, nepotism etc, and is crying on exaggerated figures of crime against women. Ironically, while they talk about corruption, they keep mum about the colossal scams in the 2-G spectrum, CWG and Adarsha Avasa Yojana etc, which are only tips of the iceberg of corruption that is going on in the Congress dispensation.  

 

However, on the strength of its solid and internationally recognised contributions to urban development, the Left Front is confident that the urban people of Tripura would negate all the slanders, misinformation and exaggerations being made by the Congress and other opposition parties, and resolutely give the Left Front a bigger mandate in the coming elections.