The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 29 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Big Brother’ CPM keeps cream of seats

Agartala, Jan. 28: Election fever is slowly gripping the state but over the years little has changed for the smaller Left parties which continue to be dependent on “big brother” CPM to retain their relevance.

The Forward Bloc, RSP and CPM have been part of the Left Front ever since 1978. The CPI joined later but the smaller partners have not managed to build up a viable organisational set-up.

In most cases, these small parties are forced to pick candidates according to the CPM leadership’s choice. This reality became clear in 2005 when the state cabinet was downsized, according to the rule passed by the Election Commission and Parliament, which stated that the number of ministers could not be more than one-fifth the total number of seats in the house.

The first casualty in the downsizing process was the CPI’s lone minister Manindra Reang who was practically forced by CPM cadres to leave his official quarters and tender a resignation.

In the 2008 Assembly polls, “big brother” CPM forced the RSP to change its candidate in R.K. Pur constituency because incumbent Gopal Das had become too assertive and they needed a more pliant Jaygobinda Debroy who is the minister for science and technology.

The scenario has not changed much. The Left Front candidate in Badharghat constituency is the RSP’s Samar Das, who is backed by the CPM. The young advocate is up against formidable Congress contender and sitting MLA Siliip Sarkar and has little chance of winning.

The other RSP candidate Joygobinda Debroy, representing in his old constituency R.K. Pur, is also in for a tough fight with Congress candidate Pranjit Singh.

Similar, if not worse, is the case of Forward Bloc whose lone candidate and party general secretary Shyamal Roy is fighting in the Congress’s strongest seat — Town Bardowali — which is almost a sure loss.

“We won this seat only twice in the past 35 years. And that was because the Congress vote was divided in 1978 and 1993. But according to the Front’s decision, the Forward Bloc is allotted only one seat and we have to fight here,” said Roy.

He added that in 2008, the Forward Bloc left the Front to protest the policy of allotting only one seat to it, but returned soon “in the interest of left unity”.

The CPI will contest in two seats: ST reserve seat, Shantir Bazar in South Tripura, in which jail minister Manindra Reang should win, but the other seat Banamalipur in Agartala town is “simply un-winnable”.

Reang said there was no possibility of any change in the equation within the Left Front.