The Telegraph
Sunday , February 16 , 2014
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INPT explores Trinamul alliance

Agartala, Feb. 15: The Tripura unit of Trinamul Congress today said party president and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee would address an election rally here on February 25.

State Trinamul chairman and former minister Ratan Chakraborty said after discussions with the party’s central leadership, it was decided that she would visit Agartala on February 25. The same day, she will also address a rally in Guwahati. Chakraborty said talks with regional parties for an electoral alliance were going on and Trinamul was preparing to put up a strong challenge to the Left Front in the Lok Sabha elections. “We have held several rounds of discussions with the INPT on an alliance. The Tripura Gramin Vikash Congress, a party launched by former Congress MLA Subal Bhowmik, has already decided to ally with us.”

The lukewarm attitude of the INPT, a longstanding ally, has put the state Congress in a difficult situation. The leaders of both parties recently visited New Delhi to discuss the issue with the Congress high command. But the alliance is in sticky waters because of the Tripura Congress’s non-committal stand on the empowerment of autonomous district councils.

“As a regional party, we demand further empowerment of the councils in the interest of the indigenous communities. Unless we receive a commitment from the state Congress on this issue, how can we forge an electoral alliance?” asked INPT general secretary Jagadish Debbarma.

The INPT fancies an alliance with Trinamul because of the recent exodus of thousands of Congress workers and leaders to the Mamata-led party. Debbarma hinted a final decision on the alliance would be taken by next month.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will address a rally here on February 22. The BJP, which has a nominal presence in Tripura, is trying to revive the party through the Modi rally. The party has already launched a campaign to make the rally a success but BJP insiders said the lack of a proper organisational structure was posing a problem. “A large number of party workers have arrived from Barak Valley and Bengal to boost the rally but the lack of strong local organisation was a major problem,” said Manik Das, a local BJP leader.

He, however, hoped the rally would be a success as Modi was drawing huge crowds all over the country. “Modi has been drawing large crowds everywhere and we hope the turnout here will be impressive. Only time will tell whether the turnout translates into votes,” said Das.