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Following Bengal line, Cong-CPI(M) work on seat sharing for Tripura polls

Following Bengal line, Cong-CPI(M) work on seat sharing for Tripura polls

By Sujit Chakraborty

Agartala, Jan 15 (SocialNews.XYZ) Going by the West Bengal line, arch rivals Congress and the CPI(M)-led Left parties for the first time in the over seven decades old political history of Tripura, have decided to make seat adjustments and contest the forthcoming Tripura assembly elections together.

 

Raising many unanswered questions, as per their earlier announcements, the CPI(M)and the Congress started their formal discussions on seat adjustment on Friday but despite both parties' repeated appeals the most influential tribal based party TIPRA (Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance) is yet to respond to any seat adjustments with these two national parties.

In the 60-member Tripura assembly, 20 seats are reserved for the tribals and 10 seats for the scheduled castes making the votes of the two communities extremely vital for any political party.

The CPI(M) in the 2018 assembly polls received a severe blow in these reserved seats from the BJP and its junior ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT). The CPI(M) got only four seats (two ST and two SC) out of the 30 reserved seats while the BJP and the IPFT alliance bagged the remaining seats.

TIPRA, which is now ruling the politically-important 30-member Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which has jurisdiction over two-third of Tripura's 10,491 square km area and is home to over 12,16,000 people, of which around 84 per cent are tribals, making the autonomous council as a mini-assembly, is the main stakeholder in the tribal votes.

Political commentator Sanjib Deb said that if the TIPRA, locally popular as Tipra Motha, does not make any seat adjustments with the Congress-CPI(M), the opposition parties would not get any electoral mileage.

"If TIPRA contested the election separately, the ruling BJP would be the gainer leading to a new political situation after the election," Deb told IANS.

He said that without TIPRA, the seat sharing between the Congress and the CPI(M) would not be effective and the two parties would not be able to build confidence among the voters that they are able to defeat the BJP.

The ruling BJP, reacting to the alliance between the CPI(M) and the Congress, termed the development as "good for it".

"Earlier, the Congress and the CPI(M) maintained clandestine relations and now it would be in the open. In fact, the CPI(M) had ruled Tripura for 35 years because of the understanding with the Congress," BJP state spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee told IANS.

A large number of Congress leaders and activists were killed and victimised during the Left regime and a majority of the Congress leaders and workers have already joined the BJP, making the "so-called" seat adjustments very insignificant, Bhattacharjee stated.

In the 2016 and 2021 assembly elections in West Bengal, the CPI(M) and the Congress had made seat adjustments but the outcome was very poor.

In 1977, a section of disgruntled Congressmen had formed the Congress For Democracy (CFD) and the Janata Party in Tripura and forged an alliance with the CPI(M)-led Left Front but the two separate coalitions were short lived. In the subsequent assembly elections the Left parties led by the then Chief Minister late Nripen Chakraborty for the first time came to power in the state in 1978.

The Left Front governed Tripura for 35 years in two phases (1978 to 1988 and 1993 to 2018) before the Front suffered a humiliating defeat by the BJP-IPFT alliance in the 2018 assembly polls.

After the emergence of TIPRA led by Tripura's former royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, the electoral politics of the northeastern state is gradually changing since the tribal based party captured the politically important TTAADC in April 2021.

To further consolidate its base among the tribals, the TIPRA led TTAADC adopted a resolution in the council and it was subsequently sent to the Governor, the state government and the Centre to create a "Greater Tipraland" for the tribals, who constitute one third of Tripura's four million population.

The TIPRA defeated the CPI-M led Left Front, the BJP and the Congress in the elections to the TTAADC, which in terms of political significance is considered as a mini-legislative assembly after the Tripura Legislative Assembly.

The coming closer of the CPI-M led Left Front and the Congress signifies another permutation and combination ahead of the next assembly elections, expected to be held in February end.

Before 2018 Tripura's politics was dominated by the CPI-M led Left Front and the Congress led coalition.

But the political situation steadily changed and in 2018 the BJP led alliance wrested power leading to a new political spectrum.

Highlighting "Tipraland" (an exclusive territory for the indigenous tribals), the IPFT in the 2018 assembly polls secured eight of the 20 tribal reserved seats, which for decades were the strongholds of the CPI(M).

In the recent political development, the IPFT due to its organisational deficiencies not only lost its political base in its traditional tribal dominated areas, internal feuds also weakened the party.

Three of the 8 IPFT MLAs -- Mevar Kumar Jamatia (former minister and party general secretary), Brishaketu Debbarma and Dhananjoy Tripura -- and a BJP legislator Burba Mohan Tripura joined the TIPRA during the past several months putting the IPFT into a serious organisational crisis.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

Source: IANS

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Following Bengal line, Cong-CPI(M) work on seat sharing for Tripura polls

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