Agartala, Feb 13: It's a mini-festival like atmosphere in most small towns and villages in poll-bound Tripura, these days. As leaders from the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M))-led Left Front government and the main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), are busy campaigning to woo voters, a cursory look at the condition of the residents of these places gives a sense that development is still a far cry in the northeastern state.
This election season, as the BJP is using all its machinery to come to power in the left bastion, the word "development" or "vikas" (a favourite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is resonating well with the voters of the state.
Perhaps that is why the Manik Sarkar government is feeling the intense pressure to win the upcoming polls for the first time in decades. The elections to the 60-member Tripura Assembly will be held on February 18. The results will be out on March 3.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front government, which is ruling Tripura since 1993, did not face much difficulties in winning elections all these years with the Congress putting up a weak challenge against the left regime.
This time, the resurgent BJP has used everything to change the way elections are fought in the state. Right from some of the top leaders of the saffron party including PM Modi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley campaigning in the state, the roads and various public spaces in Tripura wear a saffron hue these days with flags and posters of the BJP almost everywhere.
The Congress which till the last Assembly elections in 2013 was the only contender against the ruling Left Front government, this time seems to have gone missing. In the last elections, the Congress bagged 10 seats and rest was won by the Left Front government.
Along with the anti-incumbency wave, the biggest threat the Manik Sarkar government is facing is its poor track record to uplift people from poverty. The state is also lagging behind in terms of various developments. According to statistics, still at least 66 per cent of the people live below poverty line in the state, which is a huge number.
While attacking the ruling regime in Tripura, the BJP is clearly making poverty a big election issue. During his recent visit to the state, the Union home minister said he was surprised to find out that 66 per cent of the people live below poverty line in the state.
"Lotus blooms in mud. The CPI(M) government, with its scams and corrupt practices over the last 25 years, has created the ground for the blooming of lotus," said Singh.
BJP MP Hema Malini on Monday said that the "poor would only become poorer" under the Left Front government in Tripura and appealed to the people to vote for a change in the state.
The actor-turned-politician on Monday addressed a public rally at Dhanpur assembly constituency, the home turf of chief minister Sarkar. Sarkar had won elections from the seat for four consecutive terms since 1998.
"The benefits of the pro-poor policies of the central government were only enjoyed by the cadres of the ruling CPI(M). The people of Tripura remained neglected," she said at the rally.
She urged people to vote for Pratima Bhowmik, the BJP candidate from the seat, in the upcoming elections.
"While coming here (Dhanpur), I came across big residential buildings and thought that people are well off in this part of the state. Upon enquiry, I found out most of these buildings were owned by CPI(M) leaders," she said.
Moreover, jobs and development are other things that are still missing in Tripura.
So, the BJP in its manifesto-- Vision Document Tripura 2018--has tried its best to woo people with various schemes and job offers.
Right from giving free smartphones to youth to one job at least in every household, the manifesto of the BJP is full of populist moves. The other promises listed in the BJP manifesto include setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the state for sectors like food processing, bamboo, IT and textiles, free education for women till graduation and 7th pay commission salary to state government employees, among others.
Compared to all the bold and enticing promises of the BJP, the Left Front government's manifesto looks tad boring. Some of the achievements which the Manik Sarkar government is trying to highlight in its manifesto are:
There are 12 blood-banks now in the state, up from 5 in 1998; there are eight blood preservation centers now, while there was none in the state in 1998; there are 25 vision centres now, while there were was in the state in 1998.
Tripura is at present highest in India in the rate of literacy which has risen from 73.20 percent in 1998 to 97.22 percent in March 2017.
The per-capita income has reached Rs 80,027 in 2015-16 from Rs 11,012 in 1998 (the fact is stated without a mention of the inflation rate in the same time period).
Paddy production has now risen to 8,21,000 MT, up from 5,36,000 MT in 1998.
Will these achievements be enough for the Left Front government to be re-elected in Tripura? All the related queries will be answered when Tripura will vote on Sunday.
|CPIM||49||50||Election Date : Feb 18 2018 |
Counting : Mar 03 2018
|Total||60||59 (1 Vacant)|