Campaign ends for Tripura assembly by-polls

Agartala, Nov 17 (IANS) Over a month-long hectic campaign for by-polls to two Tripura assembly seats ended on Thursday evening with opposition parties and ruling Left treating these by-elections as “prestigious electoral battle”.

The Election Commission will hold the by-elections on Saturday in the Scheduled Caste (Reserved) Barjala and Khowai assembly constituencies in Tripura.

The Barjala seat fell vacant after Congress legislator Jitendra Sarkar resigned on June 6, 2016, following an internal feud with the party while the Khowai seat has been vacant since the death of veteran CPI-M legislator Samir Deb Sarkar.

The by-polls would be a four-cornered contest, among Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led ruling Left Front, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.

Five candidates each are contesting for the two seats. In all 39,007 electorate, including 18,935 female, will be eligible to vote in the Barjala seat, while 39,400 voters, including 19,436 women, will cast votes in Khowai.

Political analyst S.K. Datta said: “Split in the Congress and emergence of the TMC and the BJP as two major political forces, the outcome of the by-elections would be very interesting. In view of the next assembly elections in Left ruled Tripura in 2018, the result of the by-elections would be a significant indicator.”

“If we defeat the CPI-M candidates in the two assembly seats, the Left Front government would not fall, but an indicative encouraging message would go across the state before the 2018 assembly elections,” TMC leader Sudip Roy Barman said, explaining the party’s philosophy behind its strident poll effort.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tripura state President Biplab Kumar Deb also said that if the Left Front nominees are defeated in the by-elections, a clear political signal would emerge ahead of the next crucial assembly elections.

“A large number of the CPI-M, Congress and the TMC supporters have joined the BJP and our party would be the main political force in the state,” Deb said.

The BJP has fielded former Tripura Civil Service Officer Shista Mohan Das for the Barjala seat and Tapan Kumar Paul in Khowai.

The TMC has nominated former minister Prakash Das for the Barjala constituency and former CPI-M leader Manoj Das for the Khowai constituency.

The Left Front has fielded youth leader Jhumu Sarkar in Barjala and district party secretary Biswajit Datta in Khowai.

“People would vote for the Left Front candidates for the success of the state government in maintaining peace, development and tranquillity in the mixed populated state,” said Bijan Dhar, who is the State Secretary of the CPI-M.

State Congress chief Birajit Sinha said his party has laid emphasis on the door-to-door campaign and mostly the local leaders are spearheading the mass contact for the by-polls.