Central Congress leaders blamed for Tripura poll debacle

Agartala, Feb 17 (IANS) Congress’ worst ever performance in a by-election in Tripura forced top leaders of the main opposition party in the Left-ruled state to blame central leaders for the initiative to forge an electoral alliance with the CPI-M.

Congress candidate Chanchal Dey got only 1,231 votes, securing fourth position in the by-elections to Amarpur assembly constituency, which was retained by ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) by a huge margin for the fourth consecutive time.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which got 9,758 votes, edged out the Congress to take the second spot.

The nominee of the tribal-based party Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, Pabitra Mohon Jamatia bagged 1,623 votes, managing the third position in the by-poll which was held on Saturday and the results were declared on Tuesday.

“The Congress leaders and workers in Tripura are very much angry over the Congress leaders in West Bengal and Delhi to talk about a possible electoral alliance with CPI-M led Left Front in Bengal assembly elections,” Tripura assembly opposition leader (Congress) Sudip Roy Barman told reporters on Wednesday.

Barman, also a former state party chief, said: “Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi went to Kerala and called the West Bengal Congress leaders to Delhi to obtain opinions about the possible alliance with the Left parties in Bengal. Tripura Congress leaders remained in the dark.”

“The result of the Congress in ensuing assembly elections in Bengal would be like Amarpur by-election,” an agitated Barman added.

In the last assembly elections in Tripura in 2013, Congress had secured 15,053 votes and here in this by-election, the votes were reduced to a meagre 1,231.

Another Congress leader Tapas Dey said: “Sudip babu’s views are partially correct, but Tripura Congress’ organisational weakness led the party to such a humiliating position in the by-poll as the Congress candidate forfeited the security deposit.”

A majority of West Bengal Congress leaders conveyed to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi their desire to ally with the CPI-M in the coming assembly polls.

The Tripura Congress, however, strongly opposed the move.

“If the Congress allied with the CPI-M, the BJP will get the electoral benefit both in West Bengal and Tripura,” Tripura Congress spokesman Tapas Dey said.

He said: “Tripura Congress leadership have communicated their united decision and opinion to the party high command about their strong opposition to the alliance between Congress and Left parties in Bengal assembly polls.”

Meanwhile, a two-day West Bengal CPI-M state committee meeting in Kolkata recently resolved a possible alliance with the Congress in the state to take on the ruling Trinamool Congress.

CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, his predecessor Prakash Karat and politburo member and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar attended the crucial meeting.

Media reports quoting CPI-M politburo member S.R. Pillai said most leaders of the CPI-M in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh were opposed to allying with the Congress.

The term of the 294-member West Bengal assembly ends on May 29.

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