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Left Wants Congress to Stay Out of Polls in Tripura to Avoid Repeat of 'Historical Blunder'

Left Wants Congress to Stay Out of Polls in Tripura to Avoid Repeat of 'Historical Blunder'

The battle for the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura might see a two-pronged contest between the Left and the BJP, with the Congress staying out of the fray.

This, sources said, is a proposal put forward by the Left to the Congress, keeping with their policy of a larger political understanding with the grand old party that aims at keeping the BJP from winning as many seats as possible nationally.

The proposal, sources added, hasn’t yet been accepted officially by the Congress high command with the Congress’s state unit pushing against it.

A senior Congress leader from Tripura said, “Right now the situation is such that the Congress unit here has suffered because of the national leadership. Whatever ground we’ve made, after the disastrous alliance with the Left in 2016 – we will lose, if we’re to do this.”

However, a senior CPI(M) leader and a politburo leader added, “This is in the best interest of our larger fight against the communal forces of the BJP.”

The run-up to the 2016 Assembly elections in Bengal saw an unprecedented alliance between the Left and the Congress, which the-then Tripura CM and CPI (M) leader Manik Sarkar had reportedly described as a ‘historical blunder’.

By 2013 in Tripura, the cracks in the Manik Sarkar Left government had started showing. The Congress’s vote percentage remained virtually unchanged at 36.5%, reflecting the consistently high-level of anti-incumbency that had been growing against the government.

But the Left-Congress alignment in Bengal rippled across to Tripura and eventually six Congress MLAs defected to the Trinamool Congress, only to join the BJP in 2017.

Without ever contesting an election, the BJP found itself in the Assembly and was able to provide the state with what they had been looking for - a vibrant opposition. The CPI(M) won only 16 seats - compared to 49 in 2013. It still retained a vote share of around 45% - a significant decline of over 7% while the BJP increased its vote share from 2 percent to nearly 43%.

But, while the Left argues that the Congress is nowhere in the picture, newly-appointed Congress president in Tripura, Pradyot Kishore Debburman would disagree. On Sunday, he invited all former party leaders to return to the Congress and said everyone would be given due respect.

Debburman, who was the working president of the Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), was appointed as the president of the TPCC by AICC chief Rahul Gandhi on February 25.

On Saturday he met expelled leader and former chief minister Samir Ranjan Barman and asked him to get back to the party. Barman had not joined any party after his expulsion from the Congress in March 2017.
He accepted Debburman's invitation and rejoined the party on Saturday.

"I believe that no problem should be there if we give everyone their due respect. I would like to organise a meeting of the former chief minister Samir Ranjan Barman with party president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi. I shall also talk to all other leaders and take their advice in this regard," he said.

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