With elections to the 60-member Tripura Legislative Assembly less than a week away, political heavyweights are being brought in by rival parties to boost their chances.
Leading the list is Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who will arrive in Agartala on Sunday, February 23, and address two rallies in the state.
Defence Minister George Fernandes of the Samata Party, Bharatiya Janata Party president M Venkaiah Naidu, and West Bengal Chief Minister and senior Communist Party of India, Marxist, politician Buddhadev Bhattacharjee are the other big guns arriving in this remote state over the next two days.
The ruling Left Front and the Congress are locked in the fierce electoral battle being fought under the shadow of insurgency in Tripura. The Congress has forged an alliance with a regional party, the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura. The BJP, which has never won a seat in the assembly, is a marginal player, and only hopes to increase its vote share this time.
The Left Front, which has been in power for the last 10 years, is facing a strong anti-incumbency wave in the urban areas. In the hinterland, it is faced with an erosion in its traditional tribal votes with the emergence of the INPT led by Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, a charismatic militant-turned-politician.
Sonia Gandhi will address two meetings in Tripura on Sunday, the first at Kailashsahar and the other in the state capital. Naidu and Fernandes will also address rallies in Agartala.
Bhattacharjee will campaign for the CPI-M at Sonamura where former chief minister and Congress stalwart Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar is contesting. Bhattacharjee will also travel to Bishalgarh, the constituency of Samir Ranjan Barman, another Congress heavyweight and Majumdar's successor as chief minister.
Three Congress big guns, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, Santosh Mohan Deb, and Ghulam Nabi Azad, are already in Agartala to provide backup to the local politicians.