The last bastion

Agartala, Feb. 8: The Tripura CPM is confident of retaining the last Communist bastion in the country after debacles in West Bengal and Kerala, the buoyancy stemming from its almost impenetrable base among indigenous voters.

"There is no denying that the Scheduled Tribe (ST) seats form our core strength and have long been our base areas," CPM office secretary Haripada Das said.

The 60-member Tripura Assembly has 20 seats reserved for indigenous people ' three were added to the earlier 17 by an act of Parliament as part of the peace accord with Tripura National Volunteers in 1988.

At best, the CPM bagged 19 of the 20 seats in 2008 with only INPT supremo Bijay Kumar Hrangkhawal scraping through the now defunct Kulai (ST) seat by a margin of 117 votes. Even in the worst of times, its tally never went below 13 of the 20 ST seats.

"There is no reason why the good result cannot be replicated," Das said. He traced the origin of the Marxist base among indigenous people to the literacy movement launched by late chief minister and legendary indigenous leader Dasharath Deb from December 1945 under the banner of Jana Shiksha Andolan (mass literacy movement). Within two years, he formed the Gana Mukti Parishad against the misrule of the royal family.

Soon, late Biren Dutta and Pranesh Biswas formed a Communist party unit here but it gained strength only after Deb and his followers joined it en masse, Das said. After the Calcutta congress of the undivided Communist party called for an armed struggle, the Tripura unit joined it.

The armed struggle fizzled out because of changed party line after the government of India deployed army under the command of Nanjhappa upon merger of princely Tripura with the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, but the Communist movement had taken shape, Das said.

In Independent India's first Lok Sabha polls of 1952, undivided CPI candidates Dasharath Deb (East Tripura ST seat) and Biren Dutta (West Tripura general seat) won handsomely by securing more than 62 per cent votes.

"But the influx of Bengali refugees from riot-torn East Pakistan started changing the electoral equations. While the indigenous people remained with the Communist party, the CPI and then the CPM, the new arrivals developed a fear psychosis drilled by the Congress that the Communists would expel them from Tripura," Das said.

Citing the Communist party's electoral supremacy, Das said of the 15 Lok Sabha elections held so far, the party had won the East Tripura (ST) Lok Sabha seat 11 times and West Tripura general seat 10 times.

"This includes the controversial and rigging-marred Lok Sabha elections of 1989 and 1991. The then CPM candidate, present chief minister Manik Sarkar, had to be withdrawn from West Tripura seat on the poll day in 1989 while the Lok Sabha polls of 1991 were totally boycotted by the CPM," Das said. "Even at the height of regionalism in state politics, the Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti (TUJS) could only win six seats in 1983 and seven in 1988 while the Congress could win its lone seat in 1988."

"Our tally of ST seats has never gone below 13 of the 20 seats at the worst of times. Even in the two successive elections to the autonomous district council (ADC) for tribals, the CPM-led Left Front made a clean sweep of all the 28 elective seats twice in 2005 and in 2010," he added.

He attributed this to the CPM's continued struggle and endeavour for tribal welfare. He said the CPM struggled for ADC and organised the first ADC elections in January 1982 even before the Centre amended the Constitution to extend the provisions of Sixth Schedule to Tripura ADC.

"We are confident that the vast majority of ST seats in this Assembly election also will come to us despite the artificial hype sought to be created by the Congress and its ally INPT," Das said.

Leader of the Opposition Ratanlal Nath blamed the Congress's lack of acceptance among indigenous people to its poor organisational work.

"Our party leadership in the past made serious mistakes by not trying to enlist support from the indigenous people but those days are gone. Indigenous people in Tripura are keen to join the national mainstream and they are coming to us in large numbers," he said.

He described the struggle launched by Deb in the mid-forties as "essentially an ethnic movement directed against the Bengalis" and termed the Communists during the armed struggle period as "those who fought against the nascent Indian state like insurgents". He said in the upcoming Assembly polls, the Congress and the INPT would comfortably secure at least eight seats.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bowling worries for Super Kings

Bowling worries for Super Kings

After failing to defend a mammoth 205 against Kings XI Punjab, Chennai have a lot to think about. More »

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

The class act from Saurashtra may have to rethink his approach to the mannerless format. More »

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

The BCCI is likely to convene a special general body meeting (SGM) in May to replace N Srinivasan on the board's disciplinary committee. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Roach escapes injury after car crash

Roach escapes injury after car crash

The West Indies fast bowler lost control of his BMW sedan due to slippery road conditions in his native Barbados on Saturday. More »

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara go over their World T20 win, and feel grateful to have fans whose support remains unwavering in victory and de… More »

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

[T20 Newsline] Lacklustre Super Kings, fast-improving Sanju Samson and other news from IPL-7. More »

Repose faith in Indian coaches

Repose faith in Indian coaches

All of them cost plenty of dollars which I feel is unnecessary for a two- month tournament, says former cricketer Yajurvindra Singh. More »

Cook relieved after period in limbo

Cook relieved after period in limbo

The England captain is looking forward to a fresh start after a dispiriting Ashes defeat last year. More »

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

As Lanka's head coach decides to jump ship, euphoria over winning an ICC tournament has dissipated into fuistration. More »

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Sri Lanka's chief selector is upset at news of head coach Paul Farbrace's possible move to England. More »

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

The former CBI Director is one of three candidates proposed by the BCCI to head the enquiry into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal. More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »