After songs, plays, rallies galore, campaigning ends in Tripura

Agartala, April 21 (Indtiop) Street plays, poems, songs and colourful decorations had livened up the scene in Tripura as part of campaigning for the two Lok Sabha seats in the state that ended Tuesday. Some poll officials too began an arduous journey to reach their postings in remote parts of the northeastern state.

“Poll officials for 16 remotely located polling stations Tuesday left for their destinations as they will have to trek through 15 to 30 km of hilly and remote terrain. The majority of the poll officials will leave for their postings Wednesday,” said Sanjeev Ranjan, Tripura chief electoral officer.

Even as 19 candidates, including a woman, are contesting for the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura, the fight is expected to be a triangular contest between the ruling CPI-M-led Left Front, the Congress and the BJP. The poll takes place Thursday.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) as well as the main opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have organised poll campaigns using colourfully decorated vehicles draped with party flags and festoons.

The publication of books, leaflets besides letters to the electorate highlighting various issues are the other methods of campaign used by all political parties here.

Tripura Sanskriti Samannay Kendra, the literary and cultural front of the CPI-M, composed modern and folk songs that criticised the Congress, saying it had failed across the country, and its alliance with the tribal-based Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT).

On the other hand, the Congress tried to woo voters using old patriotic songs of Lata Mangeshkar and other renowned singers.

Despite a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress has fielded candidates against the former in both the Lok Sabha seats in Tripura.

“Congress leaders in Tripura ignored our party and that’s why with the approval of our party chief Mamata Banerjee we have fielded candidates in the two parliamentary constituencies,” said Dulal Das, the Trinamool Congress state president.

The Trinamool Congress state chairman and senior lawyer Arun Chandra Bhowmik is contesting from the Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency while party’s vice-president Rita Rani Debbarma will fight from the Tripura East seat reserved for tribals.

The CPI-M-led Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have renominated their 2004 Lok Sabha candidates for both seats.

Sitting MPs Khagen Das and Bajuban Reang, both CPI-M central committee members who won in 2004, will again contest from West Tripura and East Tripura respectively.

“Reang is the second tribal leader in the northeastern region after former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma to be elected to the Lok Sabha six times,” said Samir Dhar, a political analyst.

Sangma won the Tura Lok Sabha seat in Meghalaya as many as eight times.

Tripura BJP president Nilmani Deb will contest from West Tripura while the party’s veteran tribal leader Pulin Behari Dewan will be the candidate from East Tripura.

The BJP has struck an alliance with a tribal-based party, Nationalist Council of Tripura (NCT). The NCT had partnered the Congress in last year’s assembly polls.

Another tribal-based party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) and the Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS), a local party formed by breakaway leaders of the CPI-M, have announced their support to the Congress.

Over 2.08 million voters, including 1.01 million women, will exercise their franchise at 3,008 polling stations, the official said. Voting will begin from 7 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Patrolling was further intensified along Tripura’s 856-km long border with Bangladesh by the Border Security Force (BSF) while central paramilitary troopers and state security forces fanned out to sensitive and terrorist prone areas to keep a close eye on the situation.

Over 84 companies of the central paramilitary forces have been deployed to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner. The defence ministry has also given a helicopter to Tripura for five days for security surveillance.