| Jitendra Chowdhury at an election rally |
Agartala, April 10: The nearly monthlong campaign for the East Tripura (ST) seat ended today with the CPM organising rallies and processions in all the 30 Assembly segments comprising the East Tripura seat, which the party has been consistently winning since 1996.
Apart from all senior party leaders and local cadres, the CPM candidate for East Tripura (ST), Jitendra Chowdhury, himself has addressed more than 550 big and small rallies over the past 23 years of dour campaigning.
“My target is to set a record in the winning margin as our victory is already assured,” said a confident Chowdhury.
All through the campaign, spearheaded by chief minister Manik Sarkar, the CPM has focussed on development within the ADC area for tribals, efforts at empowerment of the ADC and the need for forming a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative at the national level.
“The Congress is corrupt and sinking while the BJP is communal and a threat to national unity and integrity; hence, cast your vote in favour of the Left forces to make a third alternative possible,” was the constant refrain in speeches of the CPM leaders.
A traditional stronghold of the party, the East Tripura seat, including 13 Assembly segments reserved for tribals and three reserved for Scheduled Caste, has supported CPM candidates 11 times in 15 Lok Sabha elections held between 1952 and 2009.
“There is not a shred of doubt over our victory, the question is margin; this time we are going to win by a record margin,” said the CPM’s office secretary Haripada Das, adding that in the Assembly polls held last year his party had won 27 of the 30 Assembly segments.
By contrast, the Opposition Congress and Trinamul candidates, Sachitra Debbarma and Bhriguram Reang respectively, have been struggling in their campaign in the absence of a viable organisational network.
A former high school headmaster, Sachitra Debbarma of the Congress is totally dependent on Tripura PCC vice-president and MLA Birajit Sinha, who lacks acceptability among the indigenous voters who comprise close to majority in the 11,38,765 strong electorate. The state Congress has no organisation and in areas dominated by indigenous people, the party is virtually non-existent.
Same is the case for Trinamul.
BJP candidate Parikshit Debbarma, an ex-serviceman, was nowhere in the campaign for the April 12 polls.
Only 20 of altogether 1,490 polling stations in East Tripura have been notified as “hyper-sensitive” because of their location within the hilly interiors close to the border with Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.
“This election will come off without the shadow of guns wielded by militants; we apprehend no trouble though adequate deployment will be made,” said additional chief electoral officer D.C. Das.
The voting on Saturday in the East Tripura (ST) seat will commence at 7am and close at 5pm as scheduled.
Sources in the election department here said after counting of all the postal ballots, the polling percentage in the West Tripura seat has reached 86 per cent but the hilly terrain of East Tripura may stand in the way of such a big turnout on Saturday.