Left Front sweeps Tripura for fifth consecutive time

The Congress’ showing in the Assembly elections to three States in the north-east and nine by-elections across seven States, the results of which came in on Thursday, was modest. If it retained Meghalaya, where it has been in power, it failed to dislodge the Left Front in Tripura or the Naga People’s Front in Nagaland. And in the by-elections, the party won three — one each in West Bengal, Mizoram (Chalfilh) and Assam (Algapur) — while its UPA partner retained a fourth seat in Maharashtra, Chandgad in Kolhapur district.

Indeed, the Congress lost three seats it had held — one in Punjab to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Moga) and two in West Bengal to the Trinamool Congress and the Forward Bloc. In Bihar, the Janata Dal (United) retained Kalyanpur, a seat it had held earlier; in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party kept a tight grip on Bhatparrani.

The most remarkable result came from Tripura, where the Left Front won a fifth straight victory with a two-thirds majority, crushing the Congress once again. And the CPI(M)’s Manik Sarkar has been Chief Minister since 1998 — in 1993, it was Dashrath Deb.

The NPF swept back to power in Nagaland for the third consecutive time with an absolute majority, securing 38 seats, 12 more than the 26 it had won last time. It trounced the Congress, which slipped from 18 to eight seats in the 60-member Assembly. The NPF allies, JD(U) and Bharatiya Janata Party, won a seat each. The Nationalist Congress Party contested in 15 constituencies, but won only four, while Independents took eight. The elections were held in 59 of the 60 constituencies on February 23; polling in Teunsang Sadar was countermanded after the death of Congress candidate P Chuba Chang a day before the elections.

In Meghalaya, the Congress emerged as the single largest party, two short of a majority, with 29 seats in a 60-member Assembly, blunting the challenge posed by P.A. Sangma.

In West Bengal, the Congress candidate Rabiul Alam Choudhury defeated its deserter and former MLA, Humayan Kabir, now a Trinamool Minister, at Rejinagar in Murshidabad district. Left Front candidate Dipak Chatterjee won from Nalhati in Birbhum district, which was earlier held by Abhijit Mukherjee of the Congress, who is now the Jangipur MP.

In both constituencies, the Trinamool Congress didn’t just lose — it came third.