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Congress hunts for candidates

Agartala, Jan. 15: The Congress in Tripura is planning to put up PCC spokesman Ashok Sinha as the party’s nominee for the West Tripura seat in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Veteran Congress leader and former MLA Tapas De said Sinha was one of the two possible candidates, the other being Youth Congress president Sushanta Chowdhury.

“The matter is still in the stage of discussion and Sinha has been sounded out but he is not keen to contest the polls. Chowdhury is not keen either because of almost certain defeat looming ahead but ultimately he is likely to be picked as the candidate for the West Tripura seat,” said De.

He said former PCC president Sudip Roy Barman, who is currently the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, would have the decisive role in selecting Lok Sabha candidates because of his close rapport with AICC general secretary Luizinho Faleiro and he would back Chowdhury. “Chowdhury is close to him, naturally he has the better chance of being selected as the candidate though Sinha’s name may also be shortlisted,” said De.

On the Congress’s prospects in the election, De said the party would lose both the seats. “Since 1991 we have never won any of the two Lok Sabha seats in the state. In fact, in 1999 when Trinamul was in the fray, Congress was relegated to the third position in the West Tripura seat; this time Trinamul will put up former Congress leader Ratan Chakraborty who will be a better candidate,” said De.

in West Tripura than the Congress candidate; hence Congress’s prospect is bleak,” said De.

The East Tripura seat is reserved for indigenous people and Congress has no base and acceptability, he added. “The CPM has almost an impregnable base among indigenous voters in the East Tripura seat; in the last Assembly polls, the Congress and its alliance partner Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) could not win any one of the 20 constituencies reserved for indigenous people, in 2008 only one seat had been won by the INPT; the autonomous district council is totally under the control of CPM, so there is no chance of the Congress doing anything in the East Tripura seat,” said De.

The Congress would soon be in an “existential crisis” unless the exodus from the party to Trinamul and CPM is stopped, he added. “After the debacle in Assembly elections, lakhs of party workers and supporters have left Congress to join either CPM or Trinamul; the leadership has failed to stem the tide; if this continues as it seems likely to, Congress will have serious problems in Tripura,” said De.