Agartala, Jan. 7: The Tripura Congress’s pre-election crisis over nomination has taken a new turn with MLA and PCC general secretary Subal Bhowmik virtually declaring his resolve to withdraw from the contest to avert being party to the “disaster” that looms large over the party’s prospects in the Assembly polls.
Fed up with the process of finalising names for nomination through “sharing of spoils” by PCC president Sudip Roy Barman and leader of the Opposition Ratanlal Nath, Bhowmik, who scoured the length and breadth of the state to revitalise the Congress organisation over the past five years, told Sonia Gandhi in a letter that the names finalised by the screening committee did not reflect the will of party’s rank and file.
Bhowmik also lashed out at the decision to concede more seats to ally INPT than it deserved and failure of the party to allot even a single seat to the National Conference of Tripura (NCT).
“In the village committee election in 2011, the Congress put up candidates in 3,500 of altogether 4,227 seats and the INPT contested in only 700 seats; naturally, it should not have got more than five/six seats but they have been allotted more,” said Bhowmik, adding that this, coupled with the failure to reach an understanding with the NCT, would cost the party dear in the polls.
As the dust is yet to settle over Bhowmik’s letter, Congressmen across the state have been up in arms over nomination of “unpopular, unacceptable and non-local” candidates personally loyal to Roy Barman and Nath.
A large group of Congress workers, who reached the state capital by hired vehicles, laid a siege to Congress Bhawan demanding nomination for Jawahar Saha, Kajal Das and Billal Mia from Amarpur, Kalyanpur and Boxanagar Assembly constituencies instead of the shortlisted candidates. Sensing trouble, PCC president Sudip Roy Barman had made good his escape from the Congress Bhawan well in time after chiding reporters for appearing at the Congress Bhawan in season and out of season.
However, Nath, whom the irate Congress workers had later approached, told the protesters that he was not aware of anything and it was the decision of the PCC president. Apart from this, former minister and lone Congress leader with a relatively clean image, Ratan Chakraborty, has urged upon his workers and supporters in Khayerpur Assembly constituency to remain calm.
Chakraborty, the best orator in the Tripura Congress, said, “This time I was confident of winning but look what has happened — my name is not there.”
PCC president Sudip Roy Barman has put up one of his close followers, Baptu Chakraborty, a political greenhorn “who does not even know the topography of the Khayerpur Assembly seat”.
Senior Congress leaders and MLAs are so intensely gripped by panic over possible omission that a large number of them, including former PCC presidents and MLAs like Gopal Roy and Birajit Sinha, have been camping in Delhi and will return only after the formal announcement of the list of nominations with Sonia Gandhi’s signature.
A senior Congress leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, rued that Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi was not well aware of the realities of politics at the grassroots level in Tripura and Barman- Nath duo had taken advantage of this.