Fierce electoral contest is on cards in two traditional ‘communist fortresses’ - the adjoining constituencies of Ashram Bari and Khowai – not far from Bangladesh border.
In the reserved Scheduled Tribe Ashram Bari seat, BJP ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) candidate greenhorn Mebar Kumar Jamatiya is taking on senior comrade Agor Deb Barman, state Agriculture Minister.
Indranath Jamatiya, a tribal farmer and who also deals with seeds, sums up the paradox well, “When people have made up their mind, the CPI-M propaganda led by Manik Sarkar may not help them. Every beginning has an end. If 1990s marked the dawn of communist era, now it is time, they move out”.
In Bachai Bari locality in the constituency, shopkeeper Shantunu Nath talks about ‘pro-change mood’ but still remains skeptical of the final outcome as this constituency has been a traditional Marxists’ bastion.
“Even my father still attends CPI-M rally, but I feel the time is ripe for change –‘Chalo Paltai’,” he says. In Khowai constituency, the contest is more than mere exciting. “Pre-poll violence has already started......a group of former CPI-M cadres who joined BJP were attacked and injured grievously,” says restaurant owner Tridip Dey.
BJP’s first timer Amit Rakshit is pitted against CPI-M member and nominee Nirmal Biswas. From statistics point of view, the argument definitely goes in favour of the CPI-M. In 2015 by-election, CPI-M nominee Mr Biswas had won the seat by defeating the nearest Congress nominee by a margin of 16,000 votes out of a total electorate of 40,000.
BJP’s poll strategists have eyed among others the tribal voters including a substantial Mundas and hence Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda was asked to campaign in the region.
In Asharam Bari segment, CPI-M worker Jayanto Das says, “The BJP is playing with fire. They have aligned with a group that wants to play up divisive tribal-non tribal games in Tripura. Their unholy alliance with IPFT is self contradictory to their nationalist image and due to this substantial Bengali voters will not vote for them".
But Amulya Shah of Baghlai village says such ‘propaganda’ will not help. “People have gauged the mood of change and even if BJP is with the tribal group IPFT; Bengali voters would vote against CPI-M”.
Nihar Roy, an employee in a government-run school, says he is resting hope on BJP’s promise of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission report. However, he says the clash is more between ideologies as the CPI-M will not like to see the BJP making inroads into their fortress. (UNI)