Saturday’s Tripura by-polls to see multi-corner contests

Agartala, June 26 (IANS) By-elections for two Tripura assembly seats would be held on Saturday with the ruling Left parties, and the opposition Congress and BJP putting in all-out efforts to gain maximum political mileage.

The two assembly segments are reserved-SC (Scheduled Caste) constituencies.

Though the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the dominant partner in the ruling Left Front, is in an advantageous position in the Pratapgarh and Surma assembly segments, the main opposition Congress and BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) claim that their electoral prospects are much better now than in the previous elections.

Top leaders of all the political parties, including CPI-M politburo member and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, state Congress chief Birajit Sinha, opposition leader (Congress) Sudip Roy Barman and state BJP president Sudhindra Dasgupta addressed a number of public meetings in both Pratapgarh and Surma assembly constituencies to woo the electors.

The BJP has registered significant improvement in the country’s lone Left-ruled state in the recent elections to the 30-seat Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council and last year’s panchayat elections.

“We are getting a good response… Our candidates — Mousumi Das in Pratapgarh and Asish Das in Surma — would do better compared to the Congress candidates. That would also be a gain for us,” said Dasgupta.

“The CPI-M would not only retain both the assembly constituencies but also increase the vote share,” claimed state party secretary and CPI-M’s central committee member Bijan Dhar.

The by-elections have been necessitated by the death of CPI-M stalwart and former minister Anil Sarkar (Pratapgarh) and former minister Sudhir Das (Surma). While Sarkar represented his constituency for eight times in a row since 1978, Das won the Surma seat on five consecutive occasions since 1993.

In all, 50,018 voters in western Tripura’s Pratapgarh would decide the fortunes of five candidates while in northern Tripura’s Surma 42,052 electors would settle the fate of four aspirants.

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