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Wrangling in Cong camp

- Party yet to decide names for Lok Sabha seats

Agartala, Feb. 18: Conflicting views are emerging from within the Congress over the party’s candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in the state’s two seats — West Tripura (general) and East Tripura (reserved for Scheduled Tribe).

The leader of the Opposition in Tripura Assembly and former PCC president Sudip Roy Barman, who calls the shots in the state Congress, had initially floated the names of Tripura’s royal scion Pradyot Bikram Kishore Debbarman for the East Tripura seat and PCC spokesman Ashok Sinha for the West Tripura seat.

Debbarman has refused to enter into the fray saying he had neither been approached by the party nor did he fill up an application form.

Sinha has made it clear that he is not keen to contest.

“Sudip has deliberately floated the names to test waters. He had actually planned to put up other candidates of his choice securing endorsement from his mentor — AICC general secretary Eduardo Faleiro. But things have changed after the appointment of N. Narayanaswamy as the observer for selection of candidates in the northeastern states. Narayanaswamy never makes secret of his dislike for Sudip and his cohorts in the party’s Tripura unit,” said former Congress MLA and spokesman Tapas De.

De said realising opposition from Naryanaswamy to his proposals, Sudip has again floated the names of former vice-chancellor of Tripura Central University Arunoday Saha for the West Tripura seat and that of former Deputy Speaker and indigenous community leader Gaurishankar Reang for the other seat.

Though Sudip was not available for comments, his detractors in the party said he had been working on a plan to have his personal nominees selected as candidates.

“His main purpose is to have his protégé and youth Congress president Sushanta Chowdhury nominated from the West Tripura seat and PCC president Dibachandra Hra-ngkhawal from the East Tripura seat for personal gains.

He has kept the preferred names under wraps and will present them at the last moment when AICC and Narayanaswamy will have no choice but to accept them,” said De.

“This had happened in 1999 when Congress candidate in West Tripura advocate Pijush Biswas had been relegated to the third position behind Trinamul’s Sudhir Ranjan Mazumder. There is likely to be a repeat as in the last Lok Sabha polls in 2009 Congress candidates had trailed in all the 60 Assembly segments of the state,” De said.

Trinamul Congress has not taken a decision on nomination for the seats though party insiders said the party’s former chairman and retired university teacher Manik Dey might be put up as a candidate for the West Tripura seat while the East Tripura seat reserved for Scheduled Tribe might be conceded to regional INPT in the event of a formal alliance with the party.

“Nothing is clear as yet as the final decision on candidature will be taken by our supreme leader Mamata Banerjee,” said Ratan Chakraborty, chairman of the Tripura unit of the Trinamul.