Three stalwarts take centrestage in Tripura election

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Agartala, Feb 22 (UNI) As Tripura gets ready for the battle of ballots tomorrow three contenders stand out among the plethora of contestants.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar of the CPI(M) led Left Front government, Congress State President and former Chief Minister Samir Ranjan Barman and militant-turned-politician Bijoy Kumar Hrankghwal, who heads the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura(INPT), a tribal-based regional party and alliance partner of Congress--surface as the nucleus of this election.

Manik Sarkar shot into fame for being the poorest and the cleanest politician of the State and earned the admiration even of his political opponents. But his detractors lash out at him for being 'silent' about nepotism or manipulation in all spheres of governance.

Marxist stalwart and former Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty helped Mr Sarkar reach this height. Sarkar entered the legislative House by winning a bypoll in Agartala in the late eighties and became the chief minister in 1998 after wining from Dhanpur segment in west district.

Declining trend of militancy, roads in remote areas, two medical colleges and development activities in both urban and rural areas go to his credit. People have respect for Mr Sarkar for his demeanour and resolve to bring overall progress in the state despite shortcomings and irritants.

He assured in election rallies that the Left Front government vowed to develop Tripura to bring it at par with other prosperous states. But his profile might not match that of his counterparts elsewhere in the country.

People of the state are convinced that the 59-year-old Marxist is the poorest Chief Minister of the country with bank saving of only Rs 13,920.

Mr Sarkar, a close follower of late Nripen Chakraborty, who was the father figure of the Communist movement in Tripura, has now set his sight on creating political history in Tripura by becoming chief minister for the third term in a row.

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