People's Democracy

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


No. 07

February 17, 2013




Prominent Issues in the Campaign

Haripada Das


ELECTION to 60-member Tripura legislative assembly is slated to be held on February 14. Campaign for general election to the Eleventh Tripura Legislative Assembly ended on the afternoon of February 12. Two alliances are the main contenders in this election. While the incumbent Left Front, led by the CPI(M), stands on one  side, the Congress party allied with INPT and NCT stands on the other. Sharing of seats among the Left Front constituents was settled amicably but the Congress alliance had to exercise a prolonged tug of war, firstly among the partners for deciding their share and secondly within the Congress leaders for finalising candidates after several rounds of addition and deletion. Finally, they agreed upon to share 48 by Congress, 11 by INPT and one by NCT which was floated .




Apart from the CPI(M) and Left Front leaders of the state, including chief minister Manik Sarkar, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury, Biman Basu, Surjya Kanta Mishra and  Brinda Karat, and, central committee members Mohd Salim and Subhashini Ali participated in the campaign. Prakash Karat addressed a central Left Front rally at Agartala on January 20. Besides visiting his own constituency at Dhanpur of Sepahijala district few times,  chief minister Manik Sarkar carried out an extensive campaign covering almost all the Sub-Divisional towns throughout the state.


Sitaram Yechury during his election tour from 8th to 11th February, addressed 8 rallies, first at Belonia of south Tripura and then in Agartala and adjoining areas of West Tripura district, including a big rally in Hejamara. Brinda Karat during her stay from 9th to 11th February, began her campaign at Padmabill, the renowned place of three women who were martyred at the hands of Army in resisting feudal onslaughts in 1950. Afterwards, Karat delivered three big rallies at Manubazar, and Jolaibari of South Tripura district and one at Bishramganj of Sepahijala district. Besides, she addressed two women rallies at Santirbazar and Sabroom of South Tripura district. Biman Basu in his 3-day campaign addressed a massive tribal rally at Mandai of West Tripura and three rallies at Golaghati, Madhupur and Sekerkote of Sepahijla district. Surjya Kanta Mishra in his first visit from 1st to 3rd February, addressed two rallies  at Ambasa and Gandachhara of Dhalai district and three rallies at Kailashahar and Kumarghat of Unakoti district. In his second visit on 7th February, he addressed a mammoth rally at Khowai and another meeting at Agartala town. Mohd Salim also visited Tripura for campaigning in two phases. In his first visit from 6th to 9th February, he addressed six big rallies, two in Unakoti district, two in North district and two in West Tripura districts. In his second visit on 11th February, Salim addressed two massive rallies at Boxanagar and Machhima, both at Muslim dominant areas of Sonamura of Sepahijala District. Subhashini Ali on the first day of her 4-day tour in the state, addressed three rallies, one at Durganagar of Sepahijala district and other two at the outskirts of Agartala town. She addressed one big rally at Kamalpur of Dhalai district and two rallies at Dharmanagar of North Tripura and two at Teliamura of Khowai district.




Certainly, the neo-liberal policies pursued by the centre and its dismal implications in all economic, social and cultural sectors came up during the campaign by the Left leaders. The hike in prices of gas and petroleum products, disinvestment of profitable public sectors to the multinational companies backed by the imperialists, opening up of all key sectors including retain market for FDI, crisis in agriculture and kisan suicides, shrinkage of employment in public sector etc were highlighted in the campaign. The Left speakers also reminded the people about the two-day countrywide strike on February 20-21 called by the joint forum of trade unions of the country.


So far as local issues were concerned, the Left leaders said peace, communal harmony, and ethnic amity as key factors for accomplishing any development and progress. The state, which was once bloodily lacerated by the extremist onslaught, could be able to restore peace at last, though at the cost of many casualties of lives and destruction of properties. They also expressed concern about the forces keen to break this hard-won peace in the state to perpetrate anarchy. They said, the very alliance of Congress with INPT, which is an open political front of the outlawed NLFT, is the real threat to the peaceful atmosphere of the state.


So far as performance of the Left Front government is concerned, the Left leaders highlighted the achievements of the state mainly raising the living standard of the people in general. In all the key parameters, like food, housing, literacy, education, health, communication, civil supplies, rehabilitation, implementation of MGNREGA, Forest Rights Act, expansion of irrigation coverage, poverty alleviation etc.,  the position of Tripura is well ahead of the national average. During last five years, the centre conferred 28 top awards and recognitions to the state for its commendable performance in various fields like literacy, urbanisation, President’s color for the Tripura police, Rural Health and Sanitation, implementation of MGNREGA, performance in Agriculture, implementation of e-Panchayat, highest coverage of ADHAR, performance in fisheries, implementation of e-governance, for best financial discipline, rehabilitation of tribal people under FR Act etc. BPL families are getting 35 kg rice per month at the rate of Rs 2 per kg. The state government has introduced no less than 15 old age and infirmity allowance schemes covering about 2.25 lakh hapless people of various social strata. 


On February 10, INPT president  Bjoy Kumar Hrangkhwal in an interview to two news channels, namely ‘24-Ghanta’ and ‘Akash Tripura’ responded to question whether he regrets for the mass killings committed by the TNV on the eve of the 1988 assembly election thus: “Whatever mass killings I carried out before 1988 assembly election, I did it at the instruction of the central government. It was a war and as such I don’t  feel any remorse for those mass killings”. This plain confession of Hrangkhwal  once again vindicated the CPI(M)’s allegation that the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had come to a secret pact with secessionist extremist outfit TNV supremo Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhwal in 1987 to dislodge the Nripen Chakraborty-led Left Front government in Tripura.


Congress leader Pradyut Kishore Debbarman while delivering speech at Bagma in favour of INPT candidate, made a most provocative remark that all the non-tribals living in the TTAADC area must vacate the area leaving the ADCexclusively for the tribals. This remark resembles the secessionist slogan of erstwhile TUJS in 80s, ‘Tripura is for Tripuris’, ‘Drive out all Bengalis from the state’ etc. which were the main reasons behind the outbreak of ethic conflict in 1980. The fact that concerns the peace-loving people of the state most is that, such irresponsible instigative comments made by a Congress leader was not disowned officially by the Congress party. So, it is the patriotic duty of the Left parties to carry on peace offensive against such provocative remarks, the left leaders highlighted.




Apart from Rahul Gandhi who campaigned in the last phase for two days, West Bengal Congress leaders Manas Bhuiya, union minister Deepa Dasmunshi, Rani Noro, Congress leader Luzinho Feilero, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and several Ministers of Assam  Congress participated in the Congress campaign.  The main thrust of the Congress campaign was the slogan Paribartan”(change). The harsh experiences of people of what Congress rule meant during 1988-93, coupled with the fresh evidence of so called ‘Paribartan’ in West Bengal, has made them dismiss this slogan with the contempt it deserves.


The Congress leaders in their campaign though do not deny about development that has been accomplished by the Left Front government. They claim that the entire credit for this must go to the central government which provided sufficient funds. The Left leaders countered that it is not the mercy of the centre, rather it is the constitutional obligation of the centre to distribute central resources to the states. Stooping low to the position he holds in the party, Rahul Gandhi in his address to the several rallies on 11th and 12th  February, gave a call that communists must be driven away from the Tripura because they are no more in Russia and Eastern European countries, they are no more in Kerala nor in West Bengal.


Another issue the Congress leaders extensively campaigned was their promise to introduce unemployment allowance to the youth. They printed several lakhs of application forms for unemployment allowance addressed to the chief secretary of the state and distributed them to the youth. And at present those filled in application forms are dumped at the Congress Bhavan, Agartala. Left leaders refute this issue arguing that, we would be the happiest persons if this could be introduced. But a resource crunch state like Tripura is not in a position to take on this burden. We always demand, ‘Right to job’ must be made the fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. On the contrary, pursuing with the neo-liberal policies, centre is more keen to downsize the administration, abolishing lakhs of posts and imposing ban on new recruitment. Had the Congress been sincere about introduction of unemployment allowance, let the central government  introduce it first for the whole country, the Left leaders argued.


Congress also emphasised on alluring the Government employees with pay scale and dearness allowances at par with central government employees. It is fact that some gap still exists in regard to DA between central and state government employees.  The Left Front government had nothing to hide. This happened because of the deprivation of  about Rs 10500 crore by the 13th Finance Commission which was made public through a ‘White Paper’ published by the state government.  Nobody had the guts to challenge this ‘white paper’ which was based on the figures of the 13th Finance Commission. This deprivation was made by the Commission at the instance of centre, aiming to embarrass the state government, apparently, to make it an issue for election campaign. However, the state government assured the employees community that the government would fill up the gap as and when resources will be available.


While the Left Front government introduced provision of 35 kg rice at Rs 2 per kg to each BPL families in August last year, the Congress created a hue and cry saying that the peasantry of the state would not get remunerative price for their produce due to this decision. Ironically, Congress has put in its manifesto a pledge to give 35 kg rice per month at Re 1 per kg. What else, if this is not a double-standard?


Congress leaders know very well that their election pledges have no credibility among the people. To make their manifesto, a charter of hoax promises, trustworthy among the masses, they declared that the economic promises incorporated in their manifesto had got approval of the union finance ministry. Tall promises are made by those who have no responsibility to keep, but the Left Front is not so irresponsible to allure people with hoax promises, the Left leaders underlined.

(February 12, 2013)