Is Tripura Ready For Change?
As Tripura goes to polls on February 14, the outcome will be watched with interest as it is the only Left Front-ruled bastion after its debacle in the West Bengal polls in 2011, where it was decimated by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress. But in Tripura, the Trinmool has not fielded its candidate. Even then Left leaders are not leaving a stone unturned. All senior Left leaders are campaigning in Tripura.
Tripura Legislative Assembly has 60 seats. The last Assembly elections were held in 2008. The CPI (M) has been retaining the power in Tripura for a long time since 1978. In the last elections held in 2008, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) retained control of Assembly by winning 49 seats. This helped the CPI (M) retain its government in Tripura for fourth consecutive term. The Left has been in power in Tripura since 1978, barring a single term between 1988 and 1993, during which it was ruled by the Indian National Congress.
The wave of change may affect the decision of people in Tripura, but at the last moment the Trinmool Congress has decided not to field any candidate in the forthcoming elections. But Trinmool Congress leader in Tripura Dr Manik Deb is hopeful that the Left rule is going to be wiped out. Professor by profession, Dr Manik Deb has a clean image in the state, who is now the TMC president since August 1, 2012. Earlier, he was the convener of the party from in the state. Talking to Uday India, Dr Deb alleges that there are some internal factors that are making organisation weak in Tripura. He says, “People of the state want parivartan, people want Mamata Banerjee, People are fed up with almost 30 years of Left rule in the state, but for this we need special care and attention from central leadership”. He also alleges, “Some party leaders within the Trinmool Congress in the state are creating problems in development of the organisation. The Left Front and the Congress can be dealt with heavy hand, but who will deal with your own people with corrupt intention.”
As the Trinmool Congress is not fighting the elections, the Left and the Congress are locking horns in the battle of ballot. The agenda which more or less the parties are focusing are:
- Employment of youths.
- Two lakh employees’ demand for pay on par with Central govt employees.
- Water, electricity and fertilizers free for farmers.
- Ambulance for every panchayat
- Rice 2/- per kilogram for OBCs, SC/STs
- Recruitment of quality teachers in colleges and universities.
- Promotion of bamboo and rubber industries
Earlier, India has good trade links to other South East Asian countries through Bangladesh. Those links can be revived by developing the rail route from Agartala to Akhaura in Bangladesh to Bongaon in West Bengal. Till 1949, Tripura was an independent princely state and had ties with Bangladesh.
“The economy of Tripura has suffered from disturbed conditions of extremism and insurgency over last two decades, which has directly hindered the human safety as well as economic development. The state has rich natural resources, including gas and forests. Tripura, today is characterised by geographical isolation, poor infrastructure facilities, communication bottlenecks, inadequate exploitation of natural resources, low capital formation, almost non-existence of industry and high level of poverty and un-employment. The vested interests of the ruling political party and its leaders have no proper programmes for the development of the land. They rely on negative false issues and sentiments for promoting their interests. As they fail to utilise the state income properly, they create false propaganda to avoid public outcry. The BJP will establish Tripura as a forward state from its present condition, which is a result of the unbroken 20 years of misrule by the Left Front. The Congress is involved in rampant corruption across the country and the CPI (M)-led Left Front is running a parallel corruption in Tripura, besides it is also tacitly giving backdoor support to the UPA. The BJP is the only choice for a good and clean government in the state. The Bharatiya Janata party, has been working in the state for last three decades and has rendered yeoman service to the backward tribals. The Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is working in the remotest parts of the state and has opened many schools. The party and its organisation have been working for 15,000 Reang refugees from Mizoram, who are living a miserable life in the Kanchanpur hill tracts.”
Meanwhile, Pradyot Bikram Kishor Manikya, Maharaja of Tripura who is a member of Congress Party, has also given a clarion call for change in 2013 assembly elections in Tripura. Maharaja Pradyot Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, incumbent head of the Tripura royal family, called for unified struggle against the ruling Left Front in the coming assembly elections. He alleged that tribal communities of the state have been at the receiving end during the 19 years of Left Front rule in the state.
“In all other states in the country there is a government and the people. But in the Left Front-ruled Tripura, the CPM organisation stands between the government and the common people. So, it is high time people of the state used their valuable vote to remove the organisation standing between them and the government. For 20 years, the Left Front has been ruling Tripura. People are not given the power to decide unlike all other states in the country. So people should remove the Left Front as they have done in Kerala and West Bengal. The Left Front works for itself and the CPM, not for the people. All contracts in government schemes in Tripura go to CPM cadres or officials; all jobs are given to CPM party men. If the common man is not in the ranks of the CPM, he is not going to get any benefit from state government. It was like the days in erstwhile communist-ruled Soviet Russia, Romania, and Czechoslovakia where the people ultimately threw communist rulers to oblivion. Even communists in China told me that it was time for communists in India to understand the market (market-driven economy). The ideology of communists in India has become obsolete and people are bound to suffer if they are in power. I will ensure that the voice of the people of Tripura reaches New Delhi. Not only Tripura, but the voice of every state in the country should reach Delhi so that the Centre can take adequate steps to resolve the problems of the states.”
Alleging that the condition of distant hamlets have been deteriorated in the Left regime, Maharaja added that there had been massive shortfall in education, drinking water, road connectivity and healthcare services in most tribal populated parts of the state.
Claiming that large share of Centrally-sponsored schemes have been plundered in the state in the name of implementation, Maharaja urged for more empowerment of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC). However, he is not with the Congress now.
“My people know what my government has done for them. So I don’t want to blow my own trumpet. But it’s my duty to remind the young generation what successive Congress governments did to the state. They nurtured underground elements and even now have links with Bangladesh-based terror groups. During the Congress regime, Tripura was known for murder, extortion and violence.”
Chief Minister, Tripura
Gautam Das, spokesperson of CPI (M) is upbeat now. Talking to Uday India, he says, “We will go to people with the developmental issues and other innovations that our government has done in Tripura in spite of limited resources. At the same time, our party will go against anti-people policy of the Congress and we know people will certainly give their mandate in favor of us.”
CPI (M) leader Manik Sarkar was sworn in as the chief minister of state for the fourth time on 10 March 2008 by winning 49 seats out of 60 Assembly seats. Sarkar may well be the chief minister this time too, if the Left wins February polls.
Apart from Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland are also going to polls in February.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Agartala
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