| Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barma |
Agartala, Jan. 23: The beleaguered Congress is finding it difficult even to shortlist probable candidates for the state’s two seats in the upcoming Lok Saba elections.
In the presence of AICC secretary in-charge of Tripura, Bhupen Kumar Bora, a meeting of PCC’s ruling faction last night finalised a single name — Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barma, the royal scion, for the East Tripura Lok Sabha seat which is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST).
Deb Barma, however, has flatly refused to contest the polls. “Nobody asked for my opinion on the issue and I have not even filled up the form required for aspirant candidates. So there is no question of my contesting the election. I am not aware that my name has been shortlisted. Even if it has, I will not contest the polls,” said Deb Barma.
For the West Tripura (general) seat, the Congress’s ruling faction, led by leader of the Opposition, Sudip Roy Barman, PCC president Diba Chandra Hrangkhawal and working president Asish Saha have finalised four names — former vice-chancellor of Tripura University Arunoday Saha, Congress’s spokesman Ashok Sinha, sitting councillor of Agartala Municipal Council Basana Debnath and former minister Laxmi Nag.
Saha said AICC secretary Bhupen Kumar Bora would take the shortlisted names to Delhi and then the central screening committee of the party would finalise names in the first week of February.
Sources in the Congress said a number of shortlisted candidates would drop out even if they are chosen because of antipathy of voters towards the Congress.
The Trinamul Congress that appeared to be gaining ground at the expense of the Congress in the state is also plagued by factionalism. Trinamul Congress, that had barely managed to keep the party flag aflutter for many years without any electoral success, seems to have a new lease of life last year after a large number of Congress workers and supporters led by former ministers Surajit Dutta, Ratan Chakraborty and Jawhar Saha joined the party in the immediate aftermath of the Assembly polls held in February last year.
In order to gain a foothold in the state, Trinamul’s central leadership had effected changes in the leadership structure by appointing Chakraborty as the party’s chairman in Tripura and Dutta as state president. Saha was also accommodated in a senior position but this has angered senior state leaders Dulal Das and Arun Chandra Bhowmik.
The simmering discontent in the Trinamul state unit came to the fore on Tuesday night as angry supporters of Dutta and Das abused the party’s central observer and Bengal MLA Sabyasachi Dutta.
A large number of Trinamul supporters, allegedly owing allegiance to Dutta and Das, invaded Dutta’s room in the government-run Sonar Tari guesthouse and threatened him with dire consequences unless he and the Trinamul central leadership honoured their choice.
Before leaving Tripura yesterday, Dutta warned Dutta and his followers that unless they maintained discipline, drastic action would be taken.
Dutta had taken his unruly supporters to Sabyasachi to tender apologies. “It is not a matter of compulsion for us to have a state unit in Tripura. Discipline is of utmost importance to us. If these unruly activities continue, we will simply dissolve the Tripura unit,” Sabyasachi told the media before returning to Calcutta yesterday.
Senior Trinamul leaders refused to comment on Dutta’s statement. A senior Trinamul leader said if things continued like this, the CPM would retain both the seats comfortably.