Agartala, Feb 3 (IANS) Three candidates, including opposition Congress’ official candidate and former Tripura Chief Minister Samir Ranjan Barman, on Saturday withdraw their candidature for the February 18 assembly polls.
Congress’ Sukumar Chandra Das joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress slammed the BJP for putting “pressure and inducement on the candidates to withdraw the candidature”.
Tribal-based party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura’s (INPT) official candidate in Matabari assembly seat (in southern Tripura) Tarani Sadhan Jamatia also withdrew his nomination papers.
With the Congress nominee’s withdrawal in the Kakraban-Shalgarha assembly seat (reserved for the scheduled caste), there would be direct contest between CPI-M candidate and Tourism Minister Ratan Kumar Bhowmik and BJP aspirant Jiten Majumder, who is party’s Gomti district Vice President.
Surprising political circles, Barman, state Congress’ former chief, had on Wednesday filed his nomination paper as an independent in his old turf Bishalgarh in western Tripura.
The Congress earlier expelled the veteran leader for six years last April for “anti-party activities”.
Barman had contested from Bishalgarh constituency in nine assembly elections consecutively from 1972 to 2013, winning five times — in 1972, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003.
He said he took the decision after requests by BJP state President Biplab Kumar Deb and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is BJP’s election in-charge for Tripura.
INPT President Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl made it clear that the INPT and National Conference of Tripura, another tribal based party, will jointly contest the assembly elections in 14 seats.
A BJP spokesperson said that witnessing the statewide overwhelming wave in favour of the BJP, the Congress candidate has taken the right decision by joining the party.
“This will help us and further demoralise the Congress which is already virtually out of the contest,” the spokesperson said.
Vehemently criticising the BJP, CPI-M central committee member Gautam Das said that the saffron party, fearing defeat, used corrupt method to forcibly win over the people.
Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice President Tapas Dey told the media: “The BJP has imported the immoral tactics in the otherwise politically fair ground of Tripura and is polluting the electoral politics of the state.”
The BJP is contesting 51 seats in the 60-member Tripura Assembly. It has left nine seats for its electoral ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal-based party agitating for creation of a separate state containing Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council areas.
The CPI-M-led Left Front and the Congress besides other smaller parties have put up candidates in all the 60 constituencies.
Votes will be counted on March 3.