Members of the Congress party and its supporters were enthused to see the party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi and the young titular king of Tripura, Maharaja Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, share the dais at an election rally.
Both Rahul Gandhi and Debbarma appealed to the people of Tripura to get rid of the 20-year-old Left Front government led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist and install a “people’s government” led by the Congress.
Rahul’s presence in the state on the last two days of electioneering, which came to an end on Tuesday afternoon, gave a boost to the morale of the party members who were upset over Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s failure to hit the campaign trail. This was evident from the huge gathering of people in all his rallies since Monday. Rahul Gandhi addressed a total of six election rallies.
However, officials in the CPM headquarter in Agartala, on the basis of ‘past experience’, maintain that it would be hard for the Congress to convert the huge turn out to votes on polling day (February 14).
‘Maharaja’ Debbarma, who is the general secretary of the Tipura Pradesh Congress Committee, has not contested the election but has been vigorously campaigning for tribal candidates of Congress ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura in the tribal-dominated areas of the state. He has charged the CPM-led Left Front of being insensitive to the interests of the sons of the soil who have a ‘glorious past and traditions’.
The 34-year-old scion of the erstwhile royal family drew huge crowds to all his election meetings.
Campaigning came to an end on Tuesday afternoon at 4 pm for Thursday’s assembly elections. The ruling Left Front has exuded confidence to retain power with a bigger margin even as it termed the Congress manifesto as misleading and impractical.
The Congress, which is contesting polls in an alliance with INPT and Nationalist Congress of Tripura, hopes that people clamouring for a change of guard would listen to its appeal. Congress is contesting in fort-eight seats leaving 11 seats to ally INPT and one to NCT.