The Left Front and the Congress, once sworn enemies, have issued a joint appeal to the people of poll-bound Tripura to unite against the “misrule” of the BJP-led regime.
Assembly elections in Tripura, where a BJP alliance ended 25 years of Left rule in 2018, are scheduled for early next year.
“We... earnestly and sincerely call upon the people of the state to spontaneously come forward, cutting across political identity, religion, caste and community to raise a united voice of protest against this misrule and put an end to this black regime,” said the joint statement issued in Bengali and English.
The six signatories to the appeal are CPM state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury, Tripura Pradesh Congress president Birajit Sinha, CPI state secretary J. Das, Forward Bloc state chairman Paresh Sarkar, CPIML state secretary Partha Karmakar and RSP state secretary Deepak Deb.
The statement details a litany of charges against the BJP government, including a breakdown in law and order, denial of civil rights and throttling the Opposition.
The statement urged the police to play an effective role to restore the rule of law in the state. It appealed to the Election Commission to “take proactive measures to conduct the election in a healthy democratic atmosphere and ensure the right to vote freely by each of the voters”.
CPM state chief Chaudhury said Tipra Motha chief Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma was “consulted” and he had “broadly endorsed” the views expressed in the appeal. The Tipra Motha had last year won the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council election and has emerged as a key player in the tribal belt.
Debbarma, who comes from the royal family that ruled Tripura, has told a section of the media that he did not sign the statement but agreed with some points, like the law-and-order situation.
A Congress leader said there was no meeting as such before the appeal was issued, but the leaders had discussed the contents of the plea over the phone.
Asked whether the Left Front and the Congress were close to sealing a pre-poll alliance, he said it was for the central leaders to decide but “we are moving” towards an alliance of secular forces.
The BJP-Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura alliance won a comprehensive majority in the 2018 Assembly elections. The Left Front could bag only 16 of the 60 seats while the Congress drew a blank.
The BJP combine, ground reports suggest, is still a force, given the divisions in the Opposition ranks.
The Trinamul Congress, which has been trying to expand its footprint in Tripura, said the appeal would hold “no meaning” if the parties did not clarify whether they were in an alliance.
Tripura Trinamul chief Pijush Kanti Biswas told The Telegraph: “They have issued an appeal but we are already fighting the BJP. We have already defeated them in Bengal. This is nothing new for us. If you want to fight the BJP, you have to decide whether you are in alliance or not. Today they are asking people to come together and tomorrow they will fight each other. This (appeal) is meaningless.”
Tripura minister and BJP leader Sushanta Chowdhury said the appeal was along expected lines with elections drawing nearer. He dismissed the allegations made in the statement and reposed the regime’s faith in the people of the state.