People's Democracy

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


No. 06

February 10, 2013




Left Front Comfortably Ahead

From N S Arjun in Agartala


BACKED by its impressive pro-people governance track record, the Left Front is by all accounts the frontrunner in the elections to the state assembly of Tripura that will be held on February 14. A total of 249 candidates are in the fray for the 60 assembly seats. The Left Front has fielded candidates in all the 60 seats, with the CPI(M) fighting in 55, CPI and RSP in two each and Forward Block in one. The Left Front has fielded five women candidates while the Congress alliance has put up three women candidates. There are 3041 polling booths across the state where the 23,52,000 voters can cast their votes.


In the 2008 election, the Left Front had won 49 seats, with the CPI(M) alone winning 46. The Congress had to be content with 10 seats and its ally the INPT, the political front of extremists, had won just one seat. The Left Front had won 19 out of 20 ST reserved seats and 7 out of 7 SC reserved seats. In this election, the number of SC reserved seats has increased to 10 because of delimitation exercise.


This time the Congress has tried for a grand coalition of opposition parties against the Left Front along with INPT and a regional party National Conference of Tuipra (NCT). It has ensured the tacit support of Trinamool Congress that has not fielded a single candidate in this election as per agreement. The PCC president Sudip Roy Burman has formally congratulated Trinamool chief Mamata Banarjee for not putting up candidates in order to prevent split of anti-Left votes. It is another matter that the Trinamool Congress has marginal strength in the state. Compared to previous elections, there are fewer rebel candidates in the Congress alliance. The BJP, which is also a marginal player, has put up candidates in 50 seats.


The election campaign has picked up momentum in the state with the chief minister Manik Sarkar leading the intensive Left Front campaign. His campaign was preceded by the central rallies in Agartala of various sections of society like tribals, scheduled castes, women, youth, workers that were addressed by all India leaders of CPI(M), including one huge central rally on January 20 that was addressed by CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat. Now Manik Sarkar is addressing sub division-level rallies which would cover around four constituencies. Leader of opposition in Bengal assembly and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Surjya Kanta Mishra is in Tripura campaigning for the Left Front. In the coming days, CPI(M) Polit Bureau members Biman Basu, Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat, central committee members Mohd Salim and Subhashini Ali are going to campaign.


From the Congress, the PCC president is leading the campaign and it is expected that party president Sonia Gandhi and newly anointed vice president Rahul Gandhi would also campaign here. The PCC had announced that prime minister Manmohan Singh would address a rally in Ambassa from where the former commander of extremist organisation Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) Bijoy Kumar Hrankhwal is contesting. Presently, the president of INPT, Hrankhwal was the commander of Tripura National Volunteers (TNV), the outlawed extremist group, which had killed 91 innocent people on the eve of the assembly elections of 1988. That carnage had helped the Rajiv Gandhi government to unilaterally impose Disturbed Areas Act in the state and rig the elections to bring in Congress-TUJS government. Maybe realising the oddity of campaigning for such a dreaded terrorist, even if former, Manmohan Singh has skipped campaigning in Tripura citing administrative preoccupations.




The Left Front is mainly appealing to the people to see its impressive pro-people governance track record even in the face of neo-liberal hurdles placed by the central government and vote to bring in the Seventh Left Front government in the state in order to continue the good work. It is also highlighting the danger to peace, stability and development in the state if the  Congress-INPT-NCT alliance comes to power by reminding the voters of the semi-fascist terror of 1988-93 when that coalition captured power by rigging the polls. The Left Front's major achievement of ensuring the unity between tribals and non-tribals that resulted in speedy development of tribal areas is also driven home along with the threat to that achievement from Congress that is openly hobnobbing with extremist elements from across the border. While the Congress boasts of the sacrifices made by their leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi who were murdered by the terrorists, this time too this national party has chosen to have an electoral alliance with INPT.


The Congress party, maybe out of desperation, has announced a spate of freebies that would be very difficult to implement given the dwindling financial position of state governments in the neo-liberal regime. It has promised to provide 7 kg of rice free of cost to the extreme poor and at 1 rupee for the BPL; free laptops to students who pass in first division in 10+2 exams; unemployment allowance to youth (strangely no quantum has been mentioned); central payscale wages to state government employees; increase in DA to govt employees and increase in retirement age by 2 years etc. While the Congress camp is banking largely on the positive impact of these promises, the CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar has termed the Congress promises as nothing but an attempt to dupe the people.


The choice before the people in these polls is between a proven track record of planned, people-oriented development and maintenance of peace on the one hand, and a track record of semi-fascist terror, murder of democracy and reckless promises to lure the voters on the other. Given the track record of voters in Tripura, it can safely be assumed that the Left Front will have its fifth consecutive victory and form the Seventh Left Front government after the polls.

(February 3, 2013)