Left Front convenor Narayan Kar declared in a press conference this week that the main Opposition CPI(M)-led Left Front is going to contest 46 seats, leaving 13 for the Congress. In one seat — Ramnagar constituency of West Tripura — the Left will support senior advocate and human rights activist Purushottam Roybarman, who is contesting as an independent from there. The CPI(M) will contest on 43, while its Left allies Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), CPI and All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) will contest one seat each.
The CPI(M) has often been accused of giving tickets to older candidates. But significantly, more than 50% of the candidates are new faces this time. As many as 24 out of the 45 candidates are new faces — the 46th candidate (from Badharghat constituency) hasn’t been declared yet.
Politburo member and former chief minister Manik Sarkar, who had ruled the state for 20 years continuously, is out of the contest this time as he now wants to concentrate more on party organisation. From Sarkar’s Dhanpur constituency, the party has nominated young leader Kaushik Chanda.
Other sitting MLAs like Tapan Chakraborty, Bhanulal Saha, Shahid Choudhury and Badal Choudhury — who have been senior leaders and ministers in the Left Front government — didn’t get tickets. Some of them had even requested the party to not give them tickets.
The other sitting MLAs include Narayan Choudhury and Jashbir Tripura. Due to health reasons, these leaders have been almost inactive on the ground. Only one MLA, young party leader Moboshar Ali of Kailashahar constituency, was denied a ticket to satisfy its new partner Congress. The disgruntled MLA joined the BJP in New Delhi on Friday.
From the Left Front candidate list, it can be said that the party completely didn’t follow in the footsteps of the West Bengal unit, which had sacrificed too many seats only to pacify Congress. However, Tripura Left leaders aren’t willing to cede more seats to the Congress, which is even asking for seats won by the Left last time. As a result, the Congress is unhappy and is yet to release the names of its candidates. The grand old party’s demands are unreasonable, because barring a few constituencies, the organisation isn’t that strong across the state.
Another significant point is that the Left is banking on its prominent tribal face and state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury to get back its lost tribal votes. Jitendra, who is also the head of the party’s tribal wing Gana Mukti Parishad, will contest from the Sabroom constituency of South Tripura. This constituency is a general seat.
TIPRA Motha Looking To Be Kingmaker?
Royal scion Pradyot Debbarma led TIPRA Motha to contest elections alone in the upcoming Tripura elections. In a video message, he said that his party will not go into an alliance with the BJP or any political party until and unless there is a written assurance of Greater Tipraland.
On the other hand, this week state CPI(M) secretary Jitendra Chaudhury while releasing the names of Left Front candidates has also reiterated that his party wants to ally with Motha and supports the economical and socio-cultural development of the tribals, barring geographical bifurcation of the state.
Geographical bifurcation of Tripura is almost impossible and BJP, CPI(M) and Congress are against this. Significantly, Pradyot’s repeated stance that he wants a written assurance for Greater Tipraland from the Union Home ministry points to the fact that he also wants to ally with the BJP only if there is a written assurance.
Motha’s demands can only be fulfilled by the Centre and since CPI(M) and Congress are in Opposition, they certainly don’t have much leverage. Motha believes that this time there is a chance of a hung assembly where it can emerge as the kingmaker. The developments clearly point out that Motha’s doors aren’t closed for BJP, which too has been keen to get the former on its side.
No Change In Seat Share Between NDPP, BJP
Nagaland Chief Minister and Nationalist Democratic People’s Party leader Neiphiu Rio said that there would be no change in the 40:20 seat-sharing deal between NDPP and BJP. According to the deal, the NDPP will contest on 40 seats while the BJP will contest on 20. During the last elections, the BJP entered into an electoral alliance with NDPP where the former contested 20 while the latter contested on 40 seats.
This time too, this same deal is being repeated. However, a section of state BJP leaders has been quite unhappy with it. In the last few years, the saffron party has increased its foothold in the Christian-majority state and as a result, there are many ticket aspirants. Also, there have been speculations in state politics that the deputy chief minister and BJP leader Y. Patton himself desires to be in the chair of the chief minister.
The unhappy state leaders are also giving the example of Meghalaya where the party is going to contest alone keeping the options of post-poll alliance open. True that the BJP did very well last time by winning 12 seats but it shouldn’t forget that the alliance with NDPP was a major factor behind this success.
The central party leadership too doesn’t want, as the media reported, to change the seat-sharing deal. Notably, Rio shares a good bond with the BJP. That’s also the reason that when Rio left the Nagaland People’s Front to join NDPP, the saffron party too allied with NDPP before the elections, despite being a part of the then Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government led by NPF.
Another New Party In Sikkim
This week, the hill state of Sikkim got another regional party. On Republic Day, former Sikkim Democratic Front leader Ganesh Rai formed the Citizen Action Party (CAP). The launching event of the party was held in Rai’s hometown Melli in the Namchi district. He said that his party would have no political flag and promised to constitute a political reform commission to fund the political parties if elected to power.
The state is currently ruled by Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), which is a breakaway faction of the SDF. SKM was founded in 2013 by SDF rebel PS Golay, who is currently the state chief minister. CAP is presenting itself as a better alternative against both the ruling SKM and Opposition SDF. Currently, SDF, which ruled the state for 25 years, has only one member in the state assembly. The only member is the party’s founder Pawan Kumar Chamling, the former chief minister of the state.
SDF has also been trying to gain ground. This week the party even demanded the president’s rule in the state. On the other hand, Bhaiching Bhutia-led Hamro Sikkim Party has also been trying to gain a foothold in the state. It recently joined hands with another regional party, Sikkim Republican Party. The road for CAP isn’t easy and it has less time to organise itself on the ground as the state is expected to go to polls next year along with the Lok Sabha polls.
TMC Releases Manifesto For Meghalaya
The main Opposition party in the state assembly Trinamool Congress releases the election manifesto in the presence of party general secretary Abhishekh Banerjee. The manifesto promised 4,000 MSMEs every year, laptops to higher secondary and college-going students, a monthly allowance of Rs 1000 to unemployed youth between the age of 21 and 40 and a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 to women etc.
The party has been trying hard to gain a foothold outside West Bengal. This time it sees a hope in the state of Meghalaya, where it became the main Opposition party overnight after former chief minister Mukul Sangma along with 11 Congress MLAs joined it in the year 2021. The party, however, has lost 4 MLAs.
On the day Abhishekh released the party manifesto, TMC got another jolt as its candidate from the Pynthorumkhrah constituency falling under the Khasi hills decided to contest the elections as an independent. The party’s major problem is that it is being seen as a Bengal-based party.