The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 25 , 2014
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Cong aims for second spot

- Forget winning a seat, party only wants to defeat trinamul

Agartala, March 24: There is a visible lack of enthusiasm among Congress workers and supporters regarding party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s scheduled election rally in Tripura tomorrow.

The situation is such that titular PCC president Diba Chandra Hrangkhawal has asked party leaders and workers to fan out across the state instead of biding their time in the capital.

Even the selection of the rally venue, Koroimura — under Bishalgarh sub-division, within 5km of the international border with Bangladesh — has triggered a controversy.

A dissident faction of the PCC has accused the party leadership of choosing Koroimura because it will provide an excuse to explain why the meeting turned out to be a “flop”.

“The PCC organised a rally at Vivekananda ground here on March 20, when our candidate for West Tripura seat filed his nominations. This rally flopped almost completely. A few hundred chairs that had been placed on the ground remained empty and no leader from the party’s Scheduled Tribe cell was allowed to speak. Congress leader from Bengal Somen Mitra was booed when he started lambasting Mamata Banerjee and the irate crowd asked him to speak against the CPM instead,” said senior Congress leader and former MLA Tapas De.

“So, it goes without saying that Rahul’s meeting will neither succeed nor help the party. The obscure venue of the meeting at Koroimura will be another damper,” said De.

Apart from this, the Congress has not yet been able to organise any big procession or rally in the state.

And as desertions continue on a daily basis, leader of Opposition Sudip Roy Barman and working PCC president Asish Saha assert that this time the Congress will perform better because of good candidates.

“Our candidate for West Tripura, Arunoday Saha, is a former vice-chancellor while Sachitra Debbarma, the candidate for East Tripura (ST), is also a veteran teacher and retired headmaster. They are far ahead of the candidates put up by the CPM or Trinamul and will perform accordingly,” Saha said.

But lack of an organisational network and “total demoralisation” of workers and supporters since the debacle of the February Assembly elections has made the Congress campaign a non-starter. The Congress has not won a Lok Sabha seat in Tripura in the last 18 years and so the party finds it hard to mobilise workers because they usually come out in strength only during the Assembly elections.

“Since 1996, our party workers have never won a Lok Sabha election in the state. But this time the workers are completely demoralised. Naturally, it will be basically a fight for second place with the Trinamul. The CPM will likely win both the Lok Sabha seats easily,” said De.

The former MLA also expressed dissatisfaction with the way the party was being run by the “coterie” of Sudip Roy Barman and AICC general secretary Luizinho Faleiro. “Nothing can be done unless the AICC comes forward and intervenes. God alone knows when that will happen,” De said.

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