Agartala, July 6: Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar hit the campaign trail yesterday for the July 15 panchayat polls by addressing two rallies at Bishalgarh and Charilam in Sipahijala district.
“Our mission is to convert all gram panchayats into model ones to ensure balanced development all over the state,” he said at the rallies. He reiterated the CPM’s stand of equidistance from “communal” BJP and “corrupt” Congress.
Recalling how the Congress governments used to install nominated members in panchayat bodies and then organise direct voting by raising hands, Sarkar said the first Left Front government in 1978 organised panchayat elections for the first time. “The younger voters may not be aware that the Congress-Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti coalition government of 1988-1993 had dissolved all the elected panchayats, the Agartala Municipal Council (AMC) and the nagar panchayats shortly after coming to power and never organised any election. We should ensure that such dark days do not return.”
He dubbed the BJP’s politics as “communally motivated” and said, “There is no place for communalism in Tripura because people of all sections have been living in peace and harmony.” He urged the people to shun the BJP and continue their support to the “secular, democratic and pro-development politics” and policies of the Left Front government.
Speaking on whether the central budget to be presented in Parliament on July 10 will be pro-poor, he said, “We do not yet know what the shape of the budget will be but going by the statements of BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister and finance minister, it is going to be filled with hard choices and pro-poor schemes and projects may be scuttled.”
The chief minister is scheduled to address meetings all over the state covering as many panchayats as possible.
Though the Opposition is seemingly not in contention, the BJP has been continuing its campaign all over the state. “We will contest the polls in all the 58 blocks and our campaign has evoked response from people who are fed up with the CPM’s corruption and misrule in panchayat bodies. A large number of CPM supporters, including local leaders belonging to the minority community, have joined our party,” said state BJP president Sudheendra Dasgupta.
He claimed that the majority of 44 per cent votes secured by the Opposition parties in the rural polls last time, would come to the BJP this time.
Though the BJP and Trinamul Congress have been trying hard to put up a fight, striking electoral alliances at the grassroots level, the Congress is virtually nowhere to be seen.
Leader of the Opposition Sudip Roy Barman toured parts of South Tripura and Gomati districts. Addressing a small meeting of party workers in Udaipur, he said in case there is no Congress candidate in a particular panchayat, party supporters should mark none of the above (NOTA) option. This has allegedly created serious resentment among party workers and supporters, according to sources.