Agartala, Jan. 6: The beleaguered Tripura Congress’s faint hopes of a comeback to power through the Assembly elections seem to have fallen flat with statewide protests of irate partymen and aspirants for nomination against a preliminary list finalised by the screening committee in New Delhi.
After a meeting of the state election committee in November, in which 209 names for the Assembly’s 60 seats had been finalised, two successive meetings of the screening committee, headed by Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi in Guwahati last month, had shortlisted 98 names. However, on January 3 and 4, two consecutive meetings of the central election committee, comprising Oscar Fernandez and AICC general secretary Luizinho Falerio, besides state leaders, had finalised altogether 50 names, leaving 10 Assembly seats for ally INPT.
As reports on the final list reached here this morning, it sparked statewide protests, with senior advocate Arun Kanti Bhowmik, selected for Kamalasagar Assembly seat, physically assaulted in Madhupur under Bishalgarh subdivision and his car damaged. He was saved by a few of his followers, who had managed to drag him into a nearby house. Despite sustaining physical injuries, Bhowmik did not name anybody but pithily said “miscreants are miscreants, they do not have any political identity”.
Similarly, a number of Congress party offices in Khayerpur Assembly constituency have been closed down by followers of former minister Ratan Chakraborty in protest against the denial of nomination to him in favour of a political greenhorn, Baptu Chakraborty. Apart from this, open protests, ransacking of party offices and stray assaults have been reported from Amarpur, Hrishyamuk, Rajnagar and Matabari constituencies in South Tripura and Pabiacherra, Bagbasa, Kalyanpur and Khowai constituencies of North and West Tripura districts.
Hundreds of party workers and supporters from Amarpur are reportedly planning to lay siege to residences of PCC president Sudip Roy Barman and Opposition leader Ratanlal Nath to press for the nomination of former minister Jawahar Saha. Senior Congress leaders expressed anger and resentment over the nominations finalised by the central election committee and said if names were not changed in its meetings on January 11 and 12, the party would be in dire straits in the election.
“It seems PCC president Sudip Roy Barman and Opposition leader Ratanlal Nath have shared the spoils with help from Luzinho Falerio and Oscar Fernandez; with this list the Congress will not be able even to put up a semblance of a fight,” said former MLA and PCC spokesman Tapas De.
He pointed out that the Roy Barman had announced earlier that candidates already defeated twice will not be re-nominated but that principle has been violated, and referred to the nomination of Abdul Motin Chowdhury in Kurti constituency in Dharmanagar, who has lost every election since 1988, adding “besides, nobody has ever heard names of candidates selected for Khowai, Kalyanpur, Amarpur and Hrishyamukh constituencies and nobody knows how they have secured nomination,” said De.
He pointed out that former minister Ratan Chakraborty and former MLA Kajal Das have been denied nomination though they had lost only once in 2008.
“The AICC is being alerted on possible consequences of the nomination but unless things are corrected, the Congress will perform worse than 2008,” said De.