Four-cornered contests likely in Tripura by-polls

Agartala, Oct 23 (IANS) The by-polls to two assembly seats in Tripura will see a four-cornered contest, giving an advantage to the ruling Left parties.

Declaring their candidates on Sunday, the Opposition Congress has fielded former Tripura government senior official Rajendra Kumar Das for the Barjala seat and the party’s block president Pranab Biswas from Khowai constituency.

Dismissing the Trinamool Congress (TMC) proposal to form an electoral alliance to defeat the Left Front, state Congress Chief Birajit Sinha said: “TMC itself spoiled the scope of opposition alliance by unilaterally declaring its nominees for the by-polls. They should have discussed the issue with non-Left parties before announcing candidates.”

The Election Commission will hold the by-elections on November 19 in 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 in the party while the Khowai seat has been vacant since the death of veteran CPI-M legislator Samir Deb Sarkar.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded former Tripura Civil Service Officer Shista Mohan Das for the Barjala seat and Tapan Kumar Paul in Khowai constituency.

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

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front too declared their aspirants last week– youth leader Jhumu Sarkar in Barjala and district party secretary Biswajit Datta in Khowai.

The BJP had also rejected the TMC appeal for an alliance between the non-Left opposition parties.

“No alliance of non-Left parties will be formed. TMC, unilaterally declaring its candidates, urged all non-Left parties to form an alliance to defeat the candidates of the ruling Left Front in next month’s by-elections,” BJP Vice-President Subal Bhowmik told IANS.

“The TMC leadership did not discuss the issue with us and probably with no other parties. We also want to fight strongly against the Left Front,” he said.

TMC leader Sudip Roy Barman, who led a split in the main opposition Congress recently, said: “To free Tripura from the clutches of CPI-M dominated Left Front, the opposition must unite.”

A large number of Congress leaders, including Das and six party legislators led by Barman, recently quit the Congress protesting the party’s alliance with the Left Front in West Bengal polls.

Addressing the first election rally here on Sunday, TMC all India vice-president Mukul Roy said that if the candidates of his party won the by-polls, the Left Front government would not only fall but would also give a message to the people that the days of the CPI-M government in Tripura are numbered and it would suffer a defeat in the 2018 assembly elections.

Highlighting the performance of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s government in West Bengal, Roy alleged that misrule of the Left in Tripura has made it the most backward state in the country.