For the CPI(M), the Assembly elections in Tripura is not only a battle to win, but also a defence of the last left bastion in India after defeats in West Bengal and Kerala. The CPI(M) which is leading the Left Front, has a strong organisation in both tribal and non-tribal segments, and a record of satisfactory governance and sustained development activities.
Many give credit to Chief Minister Manik Sarkar for curbing insurgency. Sarkar who holds the home portfolio masterminded a strategy to take on the extremists after 20 years of unrest. “Tripura has shown the country how to tackle the extremist problem. Peace now prevails in this State”, said West Bengal party leader and leader of opposition Surya Kanta Mishra.
A key feature of the strategy was luring a large number of extremists to give up their arms and accept rehabilitation packages. The State’s paramilitary force was used extensively in place of central security forces. A barbed wire fencing along the Bangladesh border helped to prevent cross-border movement of extremists.
Despite achievements, the CPI(M) is facing the heat in the campaign. Many government employees are disgruntled for not getting a hike in salaries and religious minorities are resentful of not getting a proper share of government jobs. The growth of criminal gangs and the failure to curb corruption in government circles are not helping the leftists.
“Taking cue of West Bengal and Kerala, we would rout CPI(M) and end its continuous misrule”, state Congress President Sudip Roy Burman said. The Congress manifesto has made many promises such as a stipend for unemployed youth and rice at Re. 1 per kg for downtrodden sections of society. Congress leaders from West Bengal such as Deepa Dasmunshi and Manas Bhuniya are campaigning here.