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Pre-poll frenzy in Tripura

- Monsoon session of Assembly ends as both CPM and Cong hit the streets

Agartala, Sept. 24: Pre-election frenzy is building up in Tripura and the cacophony of allegations and counter-allegations has begun.

The state is slated to go to the hustings in February-March next year.

The ruling CPM and its affiliated organisations are staging sit-ins and holding rallies across the state targeting the Congress-led Centre over various issues, especially enactment of a comprehensive food security law.

The Opposition Congress is also organising rallies to press for its demands.

The party leadership, headed by PCC president Sudip Roy Barman, recently organised “march to secretariat”, where it submitted a 13-point charter of demands to chief secretary S. Panda.

The very next day, the CPM organised sit-ins in front of central government offices like All India Radio (AIR) here, targeting the Centre. Addressing a large number of party workers and supporters, CPM secretary Bijan Dhar said Marxists were agitating all over the country, demanding an early enactment of the food security act in Parliament.

“The Centre is allowing tonnes of rice and wheat to rot in godowns when crores of people in the country live below poverty line and cannot have two square meals a day,” he said.

Echoing CPM’s all-India general secretary Prakash Karat, Dhar said unless the Centre enacts the food security act or distributes surplus rice and wheat among the poor, the starving people would seize the stocked godowns. “Their voices should reach Delhi. We only demand monthly 35kg rice be made available to all families in the country at Rs 2 per kg. We have done it in Tripura and there is no reason why the central government in Delhi should back out of this,” he added.

He claimed huge turnout at the party’s demonstrations in districts, subdivisional towns and block headquarters.

While the agitation is part of the CPM’s campaign for the Assembly polls, the party is also mobilising school students under the banner of SFI to ensure Left Front’s victory in the next Assembly polls.

Yesterday, its youth wing, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), took out a rally here, in support of the party’s demands.

Despite factional squabbles, the Congress, too, staged a massive show of strength in its “march to secretariat” in the presence of AICC general secretary and former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro and Union minister of state for finance Namarayan Meena.

The party leaders did not spell out in so many words but there were indications that the Congress had begun its campaign for next year’s Assembly elections with the rally.

Congress leaders from Delhi concentrated their firepower against the Left Front government. Interacting with reporters, Meena sought to dismiss allegations of corruption in the coal block allotment case. “The CAG’s findings are not the last words on the issue; the CAG report will go to the Public Accounts Committee and then it will be tabled in Parliament. Actually state governments, including BJP and CPM-ruled states, had opposed competitive bidding citing many grounds. We have their letters of objections and grounds for doing so,” Meena said.

Meena and Faleiro said the Congress would continue its agitation in the state till the elections and unseating of Left Front from power.