Agartala, December 18: As election to the Tripura Assembly is expected to be held in February next year, hectic preparation is going on by the Election Administration as well as by all the political parties working in the state. Full Team of the Election Commission visited the state on November 28, 2017. The Commission met all the national political parties separately and herd the issues raised by them. They also supervised the administrative preparedness for holding election. In a press met the EC team indicated that the elections in Tripura would be held according to the schedule time.
In several bye-elections to the Assembly seats since 2013, it is indicated that BJP emerged stronger with a big chunk of Congress supporters switching off to the former following its assumption in power at the centre in 2014 Lok Sabha election. Out of 10 Congress Legislators 6 defected to TMC in 2016 and the entire set of TMC MLAs again defected to BJP in August, 2017. One Congress MLA resigned from the house on the advice of the CPI(M) when he expressed to join the party. However, he also later joined BJP. Another Congress MLA though working for BJP, did not formally join BJP for technical reason to sustain his membership in the Assembly. Thus at present Congress is reduced to only 2 in the house. As a political force, Congress at present is largely marginalized though they have a traditional support base in all parts of the state.
Barring the tenure of Congress-TUJS jungle regime in 1988-92, Tripura carries high reputation for free, fair and peaceful election in a festive manner, its highest percentage of turn out of the electors with hardly any post-poll complaint. Alongside, Tripura is also known to have a unique friendship and harmony of various ethnic and religious communities which is uncommon in any other North Eastern states.
But the peace-loving democratic masses are very concerned with the manner and attitude of the opposition parties, mainly the RSS-BJP combine which has calculatedly targeted to break very peace, ethnic and communal harmony in the state. The unique communal and ethnic friendly atmosphere in the state is the outcome of prolong ideological campaign and movements of peace offensive for decades after decades against the parochial forces like TNV, ATTF, NLFT and now IPFT etc. by the left parties mainly the CPI(M) at the cost of martyrdom of hundreds of its leaders and cadres. Practically harmonious relation between tribals and nontribals, various religious communities is a very foundation of the Left front Government and a precondition of sustained development.
Attempt to break Communal Harmony
To set in a chaotic situation, to ignite a communal flare up in the state, BJP resorted to defacement or breaking of idols of Hindu temples, desecration of mosques etc. Such subversive attempts have taken place at Tepania, Jamjuri, Rajdharnagar of Udaipur Sub Division, Gaburchhara of Belonia and Dhanpur of Sonamura Sub Divisions. The points of such heinous attempts were selected mostly in Hindu-Muslim mixed populated areas. Conspicuously, wherever the incidents of breaking of temple idols takes place, BJP comes of out with protest with banners and flexes prepared in advance. The complicity of local BJP leaders behind such heinous acts has been exposed in Dhanpur, the assembly constituency of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and in Gaburchhara of Belonia. Picking up temples and mosques in the elections campaign is unprecedented in the history of Tripura The police arrested two BJP workers in charge of desecration of temple idols. But in every place the peace-loving people frustrated BJP’s attempt to vitiate the rational sense of the people of either communities.
Naturally, the issue of communal harmony prominently finds place in the Left front rallies and campaigns. On 13th November last, State BJP President Biplab Deb in a press meet expressed displeasure for making this an issue in Left front campaign. However, he neither disowns the arrested person as the workers of his party nor condemned the hated acts of breaking to idols.
BJP’s indulgence in Separate state Demand
While in one front BJP is trying to create hatred and distrust between Hindus and Muslims, in another front they are using IPFT(NC) as a pawn to create ethnic passion between Tribals and Bengalis. IPFT(NC) (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, Narendra Debbarma group) is a tribal chauvinist party and an open political wing of the outlawed NLFT whose main battle-cry is ‘Independent Tripura’. IPFT(NC)’s main demand is a bit softer than that of the NLFT, i.e. creation of separate ‘Twipra land state’ curbing out the existing TTAADC area. Even though they are aware that, it is absurd and infeasible to divide already a tiny state like Tripura, the Prime Minister’s office have been patronizing the IPFT(NC) group with this parochial demand only to break the age old amity of the tribals and nontribals of the state. In one such leaflet published by IPFT(NC) group admitted that the Prime Minister’s office responded positively to their separate ‘Twipra Land State” demand. So far no programme organised by IPFT(NC) ended peacefully without any violent incident.
IPFT(NC)’s violence with BJP support
On last 10th to 20th July, IPFT(NC) organised blockade on Assam-Agartala national highway at Khamtingbari, foot of Baramura Hills. During road blockade the IPFT(NC) exhibited extreme obscene standing fully undressed in front of the national flag before the press media. While the impasse created serious popular discontent and IPFT(NC) leaders were trying to negotiate with the central ministers, state BJP staged gherao of Chief Minister’s official residence for whole day on 18th July to harmonize IPFT(NC)’s blockade movement. Shameless BJP directly provided them moral, monetary and material assistance during blockade to garner electoral mileage in the tribal areas.
On 19th September last, there was a central rally of the Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (GMP) at Agartala. GMP is an affiliated organisation of the AIKS and was established by legendary communist leader Dasaratha Deb. While tribal people were coming to Agartala to join the rally by vehicles, IPFT(NC) miscreants obstructed the rally bound people with arms, damaged about 60 vehicles and inflicted serious injury to about 100 GMP supporters. Next day, on 20th September, in separate two incidents, IPFT(NC) hoodlums killed Shantanu Bhowmik, a young television news channel journalist while he was covering their road blockade movement at Mandwai and kidnapped another young driver Jiban Debnath, at Dukmali near TTAADC headquarter. His decomposed body was recovered about a month later from a shallow land identified by the arrested IPFT(NC) workers. In both cases, several IPFT(NC) followers were arrested by the police. Now BJP is trying to prove arrested IPFT(NC) workers innocent. On the other hand, wherever any abnormal death takes place, even if there is no political link behind the death, BJP claim the dead person to be their supporter and try to use the dead body for political purpose.
To make the normal life of the people to a standstill, state BJP has been desperately carrying on most provocative and violent action programmes. Road blockades, putting lock into the Government offices and local body offices by the BJP leaders and workers on any small matters are now a regular feature. BJP leaders are provoking their cadres to carry on violent attacks on the CPI(M) cadres, supporters, party offices and the offices of its mass organisations. A list of 13 party offices and 3 Mass organisation offices which were attacked, ransacked and vandalized by the BJP and its ally IPFT(NC) was submitted to the Deputy Election Commissioner during his visit this month.
As vulgar searches for the corps, state BJP in now in hunt for dead body. There was an incident of murder of Gourhari Malsum of Atharobhola, Udaipur, Gomati District on 29th November, 2017. In that case BJP started hue and cry claiming that Gourhari was a BJP worker and was killed as a result of CPI(M) drive for annihilation of the opposition. Citing this incident, BJP raised demand for President Rule in the state terminating the elected Left front Government. But local people never saw him in political programme of any party. Jumping on the investigation, the police arrested one Laxmicharan Tripura, a surrendered extremist and notorious criminal who had 12 years imprisonment. Laxmicharan divulged that, the murder was resultant of the family feud among former and present wives of the victim.
Dead body of one Sunil Deb of Kanchanpur, North Tripura was discovered in a drain on 16th December last. No sooner, the BJP leaders declared that the killed person was their worker and alleged that CPI(M) was behind the murder out of political enmity. They staged protest demonstration in Kanchanpur and other parts of the state. Police immediately started investigation and arrested one Kanchan Paul, a tenant of the victim’s house. The arrested Kanchan Paul who happens to be a BJP worker, confessed his crime to the police, handed over the weapons used in murder and reconstructed the manner how he committed the murder. The killer informed the police that out of rage over a court case with tenancy followed by eviction, he committed this murder.
One Shankhajoy Tripura, a CPI(M) worker and drama actor was shot to death while he was in rehearsal for drama at Natinmanu ADC village, Longthorai valley Sub-Division of Dhalai District on 4th December, 2017. In this case also, Lokesh Tripura, a BJP worker and a surrendered extremist was arrested. After the arrest and confession of committing murder, surprisingly BJP instead of condemning the murder and demanding the trial of accused, they gheraoed concerned police station for unconditional release of the arrested person.
On 24th November last, 4 Bank employees including one officer was kidnapped on Taidu-Teliamura road, while they were returning home in a week end. The police could identify the location of place where the kidnapped were detained and they got this place encircled. But putting priority on the safety of the kidnapped persons, police had to maintain restraint in their action. However, on 1st December immediately after the kidnapped persons came back to their houses on payment of huge ransom, the police jumped on action and within 24 hours, they arrested 9 persons including several surrendered extremists and recovered the entire 50 lakh rupees from their custody. In this case also BJP threatened to gherao Chief Minister’s official residence to desist the police administration from jumping into action.
The central Ministers and the ministers of BJP-ruled neighboring states are regularly visiting the state. Some are coming in official programme and some with party assignment. All of them make wild charges with unfounded whimsical facts and figures without verifying those with the state Government. Flouting minimum decency and decorum, they even make personal attack against the Chief Minister of the state who is a highly respectable political figure in the country.
False allegation on Electoral Roll
BJP made a complaint to the Election Commission about massive irregularities in the electoral roll of the state and demanded holding election only after extensive revision of the roll which requires 6 to 7 month time. The objective of such demand is clearly to drag the election beyond the tenure of the present Government. But the Commission apparently did not give cognizance to the complaint. In this regard, it may be recalled that allegation of massive irregularities was also raised by the Congress on the eve of 2013 Assembly election. Giving cognizance to the Congress allegations, Election Commission formed three District wise teams to verify the allegations. They investigated the allegations physically visiting from village to village. Though their observation could not be made public, it is fact that not a single voter was deleted from the roll on the basis of the allegation made by the Congress. And now BJP is resorting to the same plot. Revision of electoral roll is a continuous process. Every year there is a special drive for revision involving all political parties through their BLAs. Making such complaint of massive irregularities in the electoral roll is nothing but finding an excuse in advance for imminent rout of the BJP in the election.
Perversions of state BJP President
On 14th April 2017, while addressing a rally at Teliamura, Khowai District, state BJP President Biplab Deb said “….As election was held in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur, it will be held in same manner in Tripura also. Even if Manik Sarkar himself cast his vote for his party, that will be recorded in favour of lotus. You Manik Sarkar (Chief Minister) may lodge a case against Biplab Deb (Speaker), if you have so guts… ”. In a democratic country like ours, such speech bears serious implications. It is an open distrust and disregard to the democratic system, popular mandate and also to the Election Commission who conducts election. He never regretted for his pervasive comments. CPI(M) made a complaint to the Election Commission of India with a video CD of the above speech and some paper clippings. It is yet to know whether the Commission has taken any action on this complaint.
on 15th November last, while addressing a BJP rally in Bishalgarh BJP State President Biplab Deb commented that if peaceful atmosphere does not prevail in the state, then election would be postponed. With such utterance, in one hand, Mr. Deb is indulging the BJP supporters in creating lawlessness in the state to postpone election and undermining the sanctity of the Election Commission which is constitutional body having sole authority to decide the schedule of election in any particular state, on the other.
BJP’s money power
BJP being a richest party of the country is trying to distort or purchase the people’s mandate with money in Tripura. They are lavishly expensing in their campaign. They are alluring the youths with huge amount of money and providing them costly smart phones, bikes and even vehicles to their selected leaders. BJP workers are also alluring the voters with personal gains going door to door in villages and towns. It is also reported that the people joining their rally is paid their one day’s wage. We apprehend, on the poll eve days, BJP will disburse cash directly to the voters.
Role of the pet media
It reported that some print and electronic media have been bribed by BJP leaders to work for them in this election. False and fabricated stories are being spread castigating CPI(M) party and its leaders in an organised manner. These pet media are working overnight to establish the falsehood spread by the BJP. Any incident of apolitical nature are being given political colour to allege the CPI(M) by these media.
Extremists though got cornered, are not yet eliminated. IPFT(NC) is an open political wing of the NLFT extremists. Several insurgent outfits are still camping in other side of Bangladesh border. Besides, NLFT, other extremist outfits also might have their agents in the state in disguise. It is not unlikely that, BJP would use those outfits either to disrupt election or use them in their favour.
Left Front’s impressive rallies and demonstrations
By these time, three massively attended central rallies of ‘Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad, scheduled Caste Coordination Committee and working people of the state at the call of CITU were held in Agartala. Four Student-Youth organisations organised Sub-Division division wise rallies. At the call of the AIDWA State committee, local area wise and Sub-Division level impressive women Padayatras and rallies were held in almost all the Sub-Divisions. That followed the polling booth wise Padayatra at the call of the party. Long, decorative and attractive Padayatras are being organised by the party. The issues like communal agenda of BJP-RSS, anti-people, corporate-friendly policies of Central Government, the disruptive activities of the BJP in the state and performance on the basis of alternative policies pursued by the Left front Government are being highlighted by the speakers in the left front campaign. During the CPI(M) and Left front campaign during last one and a half months period, 2964 persons of 929 families belonging to opposition joined left camp. This has created panic among the BJP leader and thus they leaving no stone unturned to create a situation conducive to claim President’s Rule.
Democratic and peace-loving people of Tripura massively are on the street and will continue to stay on the street until accomplishment of the victory fighting all these odds.