Poll campaigns in full swing in tribal areas

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Mandai (West Tripura), Feb 17: The election ralllies in the interior tribal-dominated areas of the state have picked up pace with allegations and counter-allegations being levelled by the ruling Left Front and Opposition Congress-Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), ahead of the February 23 polls.

Recently, the INPT has been dominating most of the interior parts of the state and the Mandai area is particularly sensitive because of its history of ethnic clashes during the eighties and nineties.

Meanwhile, the major poll plank is that the tribal people had remained the most deprived under the 15-year Left Front rule in Tripura.

''Most of the tribal villages do not have drinking water facility, there are no roads and there is no avenue for livelihood.

The tribals are dying of starvation and one cannot understand their plight under the Left Front's rule without visiting the tribal areas,'' INPT leader Jagadish Debbarma said.

The party leaders were continuously reminding the voters about the results of the 2003 Assembly elections, during which the ruling Left Front won 13 of the 20 tribal-reserved seats, INPT six and the Congress one and trying to convince the voters that the dissatisfactory development of the area was mainly due to the misrule of the Left Front during the past three terms.

Meanwhile, senior CPI(M) tribal leader and Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) Aghore Debbarma, who was contesting the ST-reserved Pramodnagar constituency, had been rallying across all the tribal seats and urging the voters not to be misguided by the INPT's statement.

He claimed that the Left Front had won the tribals' hearts because of the development work initiated by the government for upliftment of the tribal people and it would be reflected in the election results.

In its election campaign, the ruling Left Front as a whole had showcased the development work initiated by its government in tribal areas and sought the support of tribal voters for another term.

''The Left front promoted all-round development and establishment of peace by controlling militancy,'' Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said, adding that the Congress had failed to cooperate on any development issues and had now forged an alliance with the INPT, which he termed ''nothing but a mask for insurgents.'' However, the Congress was highlighting the alleged corruption, lack of development and misuse of central funds. At the same time, the party was also highlighting the rift among the Left partners and the seperation of the Forward Bloc from the Front in Tripura as it was peeved over the CPI(M)'s rejection of its demand for three seats.


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