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|January 12, 1998||
Tripura CPI-M forces veterans to retire
In an unprecedented development, all the Marxist stalwarts and father figures of the Communist movement in Tripura will remain out of the poll battle in the February 16 Tripura assembly election.
Both the ruling Left Front and the Opposition Congress-Tripura Upajati Juba Samity-Tripura National Volunteers alliance will field their young and middle-aged leaders for the assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
Among the Communist Party of India-Marxist stalwarts sidelined are Chief Minister Dasaratha Deb, assembly Deputy Speaker Sunil Chowdhury, sitting MLAs Bidya Debbarma, Purno Mohan Tripura, Hasmai Reang and Rasiram Debbarma. Former chief minister Nripen Chakraborty, who was expelled from the CPI-M in April 1995, will not contest the poll either.
Deb, who has been elected to the Lok Sabha thrice since 1952 and to the Tripura assembly four times, will not contest the election due to failing health.
Debbarma, a top tribal leader, has never lost any election and was elected to the assembly six times. He will also not contest the election on health grounds.
As for Purno Mohan Tripura, he will be unable to contest the election as he was kidnapped by National Liberation Front of Tripura militants on October 15 and is still in their custody.
The ruling CPI-M-led Left Front, which announced its candidates recently, dropped as many as 10 sitting MLAs and brought in 17 new faces for the assembly election. The party is also fielding four women -- the highest in any election so far.
In three previous elections, the CPI-M polled between 44 and 47 per cent of the vote while the Congress secured between 30 and 38 per cent votes in the state.
In the 1983 assembly election, the CPI-M secured 46.78 per cent votes and captured 37 seats, contesting 56 constituencies in the sixty-member House. The Congress secured 30.51 per cent votes and captured 12 of the 45 constituencies it had contested. Its ally -- the TUJS -- polled 10.47 per cent votes and captured six of the 14 seats it had contested.
In the 1988 assembly election, when the CPI-M was voted out of power, it polled 46.13 per cent votes and retained 26 of the 54 seats it had contested. The Congress, which captured power, polled 36.80 per cent votes and captured 24 of the 45 seats it had contested.
In the last assembly election in 1993, in which the Left Front regained power, the CPI-M polled 44.35 per cent votes and secured 44 seats contesting in 51 constituencies. The Congress secured 31.89 per cent votes and captured 10 seats, contesting 46 constituencies.
The Communist Party of India and the Forward Bloc are the CPI-M's allies while the TUJS forged an alliance with the Congress in 1983. This time the TNV would enter the Congress-TUJS alliance.
The CPI-M will not share any seats with its ally, the Tripura Hills Peoples Party while the seat-sharing agreement with the Janata Dal is yet to be decided, party secretary Manik Sarkar said.
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