Tripura polls: Hiccups after Left-Congress seat deal
The seat-sharing deal between the Left Front and the Congress for the upcoming Tripura Assembly polls has run into hiccups despite both sides appearing hopeful of an amicable resolution.
The Left Front revealed on Monday that they have filed nominations in all 60 seats despite having left 13 seats for the Congress in a seat-sharing deal announced on January 25 to oust the ruling BJP-IPFT combine.
Monday was the last day of filing nominations for the February 16 polls.
Senior Congress leaders did not respond to calls but sources said Congress candidates had filed nominations for 16 seats, three more than what the Left Front had announced. The Congress had announced 17 candidates on Saturday.
CPM state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury, who had told The Telegraph on Sunday night that the seat-sharing issue had been resolved with the Congress settling for 13 seats, confirmed that the Left Front had filed nominations in all seats but he was hopeful of a solution by February 2, the last day of withdrawal of nominations.
Left Front convener Narayan Kar shared similar views.
“Yes, we have filed nominations in all seats but it will not remain. If they (Congress) allot party symbol to only 13, we will withdraw our 13 candidates by tomorrow. The information we have is that they (Congress) have filed nomination in 16 seats, three more than 13,” Chaudhury told The Telegraph.
Asked about the fate of the deal despite the Left Front’s optimism, Chaudhury said: “Let us see. There is time till February 2. There is ample scope for dialogue. We are hopeful that our understanding will remain intact (that they keep their part of the bargain).”
As many as 228 of the 305 nominations were filed on Monday, the last day of filing nominations.
Sources said the Left Front took the decision to field candidates in all seats because there were lots of issues over ticket distribution within the Congress. There is disquiet in the state Congress over the manner in which the seat-sharing issue was handled by state leaders tasked with the job.
“There is no issue with senior Left Front or Congress leaders. To ensure the seat-sharing deal remains intact and their prospects are not harmed, the Left Front is piling pressure on the Congress to stick to what has been decided. The CPM may still spare a seat or two but it does not want any friendly fight,” a source said.
A Congress insider said efforts are being made to ensure that seat sharing with the Left Front continues.
“Both sides will suffer without the deal. To ensure the defeat of the BJP, both sides need to work together. The AICC in charge of Tripura (Ajoy Kumar) needs to intervene now and see the leaders tasked with ensuring the deal deliver. We are still hopeful of an amicable solution,” the Congress insider said.
The Congress had contested 59 of the 60 seats in 2018 polls but drew a blank while the ruling Left Front had contested all the seats but won only 16 seats against a BJP-IPFT alliance that won 44 seats.
As part of the seat-sharing deal announced on January 25, the Left Front was to contest in 46 seats (CPM 43), support an Independent and leave 13 seats for the Congress.
On Monday, the ruling BJP took out a massive rally when chief minister Manik Saha went to file his nomination. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh were with him.
Sarma, who is also the convener of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), said the BJP alliance would get “five-six more seats” than the last time and development was its only poll plank. He also took a dig at the CPM and the Congress, saying “zero plus zero is zero” in the polls.
Sarma stated the BJP’s position on separate statehood demands by saying it would never promote the division of Tripura but continue to work for the development of the tribal people.
As many as 20 of the 60 seats in the state are reserved for ST candidates.
Tipra Motha, which is fighting the polls alone, has made Greater Tipraland state a key poll plank.